The ACLU of San & Imperial Counties is committed to protecting and advancing the rights of immigrants in our region, particularly those who are subject to the abuses of immigration detention.
Every year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for the unnecessary mass incarceration of hundreds of thousands of immigrants while they pursue avenues for lawful immigration status. On any given day, immigration jails in San Diego and Imperial Counties can confine more than 2000 people. ICE detention is “civil” not criminal, meaning that it may not be used as punishment. Yet ICE routinely exposes individuals to constitutional violations and cruel conditions of confinement, while it consistently attempts to evade accountability for its abuse.
These practices are particularly egregious in the southern border region, where every day people come to the United States for the first time with the hopes of seeking protection from persecution and torture, but are instead locked up behind bars. This is in addition to the many community members who DHS plucks from our neighborhoods, often separating them from their families. ICE detention also ensnares long-time residents who are transferred from jails and prisons after completing their sentences, depriving them of an opportunity to return to their homes even though they have been deemed eligible for release by our criminal legal system. No matter how they end up in ICE custody, they are thrust into a detention system in which due process violations and abuse are pervasive.
- We will continue to fight to uphold due process in detention, including:
- The right of people subject to prolonged detention to a hearing where they can seek release from ICE custody on bond.
- The right of people in detention to be promptly presented before a judge.
- The right of access to counsel for people in U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody who seek to be removed from the Remain in Mexico program due to a fear of persecution and/or torture in Mexico.
- The right of access to basic information about removal proceedings and detention for people in the remote Imperial Regional Detention Facility, where pro bono legal services are scarce.
- We will also continue fighting back against inhumane conditions of confinement, including:
- Challenging ongoing detention in pandemic tinderboxes during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
- Challenging transfers of people from jails and prisons to immigration detention centers during the pandemic.
- Exposing the long history of abuses in private immigration jails, which operate outside the purview of public oversight and accountability while they profit off of human suffering.