March 22, 2017

Los Angeles, CA - MALDEF sent a letter Tuesday to the Santa Ana City Council urging officials to reject a proposal to negotiate a new contract with federal immigration authorities.

The letter comes nearly two weeks after the Santa Ana City Council failed to approve a similar proposal to reinstate an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to rent out bed space in the city’s jail.

Santa Ana began leasing out beds to ICE in 2006, according to published reports. Supporters of the agreement argue that without the contract, immigrants will be shipped off to remote detention centers, far away from family and support services.

MALDEF’s letter rejects such claims, noting that the Trump Administration recent actions indicate it is very likely to adopt practices to separate detained immigrants from their family and support.

"Such detention assignment practices would be consistent with the current Administration's apparent aim of making the lived experience of immigrants, especially those who refuse to waive their rights to due process, as difficult as possible,” wrote MALDEF President and General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz. "In other words, it is very likely a goal of the current Administration to separate detained immigrants from their support systems, including family. The stated intention of the Trump Administration to construct new detention centers in remote locations near the border supports this assessment of the Administration's likely practices in detention assignment.

In short, without a contractual provision limiting detainees in Santa Ana to those who reside in Orange County -- a provision that ICE is extremely unlikely to accept -- there is little indication that continuing to detain immigrants in the Santa Ana jail will result in immigrants being detained closer to their families and other support.”

The city council voted to reject the proposal late Tuesday.

"While MALDEF is pleased with last night's decision, we hope that such proposals will not be revived in the future and that Santa Ana can move on to finding more productive uses for its jail facilities, and focus on protecting its immigrant residents from being apprehended and detained in the first place,” said MALDEF President and General Council Thomas A. Saenz. READ THE LETTER HERE.

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

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