SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — A judge in San Diego struck a blow to the Trump administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who wanted to keep private detention centers open to house migrants in California.
Last year, California lawmakers agreed to abolish “for-profit” detention centers and prisons in the state saying they contribute to the over-incarceration of immigrants seeking asylum.
These facilities were supposed to shut down earlier this year but the Trump administration stepped in with a lawsuit challenging California’s ban on private prisons.
Thursday, a judge sided with California and with immigrant rights’ advocates declaring the state can shut down detention centers operated by independent companies. One exception was made: U.S. Marshals’ facilities.
The judge found that California Assembly Bill 32, which led to the ban, is constitutional. The judge rejected the federal government’s argument that the state was preempted from regulating immigration detention under the Constitution. The judge found that under the 10th Amendment, the ability to regulate private prisons falls within the state’s purview.
According to the ruling, the state has the right to regulate how prisons are contracted and operated without ever interfering in the federal government’s role over immigration enforcement.
CoreCivic, which operates three detention centers in California, was not part of the lawsuit but called the attempt to eliminate private prisons “misguided” and issued the following statement:
“We operate a community reentry program (Boston Avenue facility) in San Diego in partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). This facility provides a wide range of critical reentry services including counseling, life skills, and assistance with job placement to its CDCR participants, who are released about one year early from prison as part of this program. We also operate a residential center at our Ocean View facility that serves the Federal Bureau of Prisons and San Diego County. This facility also provides critical resources to participants while allowing them to benefit from living in their community. Over the last three years, these facilities have helped nearly 6,000 residents return to their community with the tools they need to be successful.
CoreCivic also operates the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego which serves U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) adult detainees. CoreCivic plays a valued but limited role in America’s immigration system, which we have done for every administration – Democrat and Republican – for more than 35 years. CoreCivic never has and never will house unaccompanied minors or operate border patrol holding facilities. CoreCivic has been assisting the federal government in the San Diego area since 2015, where we currently employ 382 people from the surrounding communities. We encourage you to read more on our role in America’s immigration system here.
Our sole job has been and continues to be to help the government solve problems in ways it could not do alone – to help manage unprecedented humanitarian crises, dramatically improve the standard of care for vulnerable people, and meet critical public safety needs efficiently and innovatively.
When California’s prison system capacity was at 200 percent and conditions were so challenging as to be deemed unconstitutional, companies like ours were one of the solutions the state turned to. For 10 years, we provided safe, secure housing and life-changing reentry programming for inmates that had faced extreme overcrowding. Our partnership with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) eliminated the need for capital expenditures to build or expand existing facilities and provided time to implement reforms to reduce the State’s unconstitutional level of overcrowding. From 2015-2018, our partnership with the CDCR resulted in inmates at La Palma Correctional Center and Tallahatchie County Correctional Facility earning more than 715 High School Equivalency (HSE) certificates and 3,700 industry recognized vocational (IRC) certificates.”