U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents (Photo credit: Philip A. Dwyer/Bellingham Herald/MCT/Sipa USA)

Immigration Officials Scouting For Detention Center Sites In Bay Area

KCBS Radio Morning News
May 20, 2019 - 9:20 am

Immigration officials are quietly scouting across California for locations to open new detention centers that could hold more than 5,000 immigrants.

Part of the search by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials includes looking at spots in the Bay Area. 

Activists who support migrants are angered, saying the federal action counteracts a state law passed in 2017 that sought to stop ICE from expanding in California. 

"Immigration detention is holding people for civil violations," said Jackie Gonzalez, policy director for the Justice and Diversity Center' of San Francisco's Bar Association. "So, if you believe we need to expand detention centers to hold people that have never been convicted of a crime, I sort of believe that's a false premise to begin operating from."

ICE is taking advantage of a loophole in the law, according to the critics. Immigration officials can still legally open detention centers by contracting with private prison companies rather than local jurisdictions.

In government documents, ICE has said the inquiry for new bed space is routine. 

Contra Costa County shut down the detention center in the Richmond last year after immigrants rights advocates channeled the public's opposition against the site.