Determining the location of immigration detention facilities and obtaining information about the facilities’ contracts can be difficult, but CIVIC can help you file state public record requests or federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Why Is It So Difficult to Obtain Information About ICE Contract Facilities?
Establishing a community visitation program requires determining where persons are being held in immigration custody, but this information is not always easily attainable for three reasons. First, ICE does not publicize up-to-date information about its facilities. ICE does maintain a Facility Locator program on its website, which allows the public to search for detention facilities by state, region, or name. However, this list is not comprehensive. For example, while it lists 9 facilities in California, it fails to list all of the facilities holding immigrants in California, such as the James A. Musick Facility and Theo Lacy in Southern California. Thus, CIVIC has created a comprehensive map of immigration detention facilities based on data it received from ICE:
View Immigration Detention Visitation – CIVIC in a larger map
Second, ICE often responds to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with records that are both over inclusive and under inclusive. For example, when CIVIC co-founders started the first immigration detention visitation program in California in August 2010, ICE’s Facility Locator did not exist. Therefore, Christina Fialho and Christina Mansfield’s research began by poring over results of FOIA requests and talking with immigration attorneys to determine where immigrants were being detained in Northern California. They first reviewed records of the Switzerland-based Global Detention Project obtained through a FOIA request. The records were over-inclusive in that they showed that dozens of jails and prisons in California had the potential to house immigrants in detention, but the records also were under-inclusive because they only provided a glimpse of detention during one month. In particular, the records indicated that thirty-five cities in California in September 2007 had the ability to hold “ICE detainees” in jails, state prisons, or privatized prisons located within their city. However, not all of these cities actually housed persons in immigration detention during the month of September 2007. For example, while the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose housed 218 persons in immigration detention in September 2007, the Corcoran State Prison housed zero. Simply knowing that a facility had an agreement with ICE did not explain how often ICE used the facility to hold immigrants in custody. Thus, in order to determine where immigrants were being detained in 2010, Fialho and Mansfield had to contact individual counties.
This leads to the third reason why information about the location of detention facilities is not easily attainable: Counties that hold immigrants in detention through intergovernmental service agreements with ICE are not forthcoming about these agreements. For example, Santa Clara County’s public information officer provided Detention Dialogues with misinformation about its agreement with ICE. Christina Fialho first contacted the Santa Clara County Public Record Officer, Sergeant Rick Sung, in late 2010. In a phone call and in a follow-up email on November 22, 2010, Sergeant Sung said, “Please be advised that the Santa Clara County Department of Correction never had an MOU or interagency service agreement with ICE.” In order to obtain accurate information, Christina had to file a California Public Records Request, and the results revealed that Santa Clara County in fact had been detaining immigrants for the federal government since 1984 when it began contracting with the U.S. Marshals Services (before ICE’s creation in 2003) and had recently ended its contract with ICE in 2010.
California: A Pocket Guide to the Public Records Act
Georgia: How To Make an Open Records Request
Nebraska: Public Records Statutes
New Jersey: Open Public Records Act Forms
Maryland: Public Information Act
Virginia: The Virginia Freedom of Information Act
Massachusetts: Making a Request for Public Records
Michigan: Michigan Freedom of Information Act
Pennsylvania: How to Make a Request for Records
 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552, Case No. 07-FOIA-51185, to Michael Flynn (Nov. 7, 2007), available at http://www.globaldetentionproject.org/fileadmin/docs/US_Department_of_Homeland_Security_2007_1_.pdf.
Id. (Lancaster, San Diego, San Pedro, El Centro, San Jose, Westminister, Bakersville, Marysville, Santa Ana, San Bernadino, El Cajon, Sacramento, Camarrillo, San Rafael, San Mateo, French Camp, Woodland, Fresno, Corcoran (California State Prison), Castro Valley, Redwood City, Milpitas, Calipatria (State Prison), Salinas, Vacaville, Merced, Santa Cruz, Oakland, Ventura, Willows, Los Angeles, Red Bluff, Atwater, Lompoc, and Riverside).
 Email from Rick Sung, Public Information Officer, Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, to Christina Fialho (Nov. 22, 2010, 7:43 PST).
 California Public Records Act (Govt. Code §§ 6250 – 6276.48), to Christina Fialho (Dec. 17, 2010) (on file with author) (“The USM has contracted with the County to house federal prisoners since 1984. The initial agreement, followed by five subsequent amendments, was valid until January, 1998. In February, 1998 the DOC negotiated a new Agreement with the USM for an indefinite time period. The Agreement can be terminated when either party informs the other in writing 30 days in advance of the effecitve date of termination or a new Agreement is put into place. Two amendments to the Agreement were completed in July 1998, and February 2000. On August 19, 2003, the Board of Supervisors delegated authority to the Chief of Correction to approve two additional addendums to the Agreement: one to include transportation services for federal prisoners, and the other to include ICE as a user agency in the Agreement with the U.S. Marshall’s Service.”).