Mark Lambie / El Paso Times

California Investigators Find Harrowing Conditions At Immigration Facilities

Jenna Lane
February 26, 2019 - 2:09 pm
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Investigators with the California Department of Justice have released a report depicting grim conditions inside immigration detention facilities throughout the state. 

Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a 129-page report on Tuesday that described detainees who were held in cells for 22 hours a day, had their confidential medical records compromised and encountered language barriers that interfered with due process. 

The investigation was prompted by widespread reports that immigrant families and lawful asylum seekers, many of whom are fleeing desperate conditions in their home countries, are being detained indefinitely in inhumane conditions after being intercepted at the border.

Deputy Attorney General Marisol León of the Department’s Civil Rights Enforcement Section described hearing “soul crushing” stories from youth at the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility who crossed multiple borders to flee violence and persecution, only to be “re-traumatized” by their experience at the American detention center. León said youth were not receiving proper mental health services from detention officials. 

León also recounted hearing of a man whose baby was "torn from his arms" when he was detained, and of women who are not receiving proper medication while in the facilities.

California has remained at odds with the Trump administration over immigration policy, with Governor Gavin Newsom withdrawing National Guard troops from the border following President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to procure funding for a border wall.

Becerra said that the detainees had not been convicted of any crime, but found themselves in conditions that would be harsh even for hardened criminals. He said that officials at some facilities expressed a willingness to improve those conditions, while others did not.

The state has also come under fire for “sanctuary state” legislation, that forbids local law enforcement officials from cooperating with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement in most situations.

KCBS Radio has requested comment from the Yolo County facility managers, one of 10 civil immigration detention centers in the state.

Read the full report: