Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

BREAKING NEWS: DeSaulnier reports proposed detention center “has been halted”

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Screenshot of a tent city-type detention center from TIME.com

Washington, DC – Today, Wednesday, June 27, 2018, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) issued the following statement in response to news that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it will not be moving forward with a detention center at the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

“I am pleased the effort to turn Concord Naval Weapons Station into a detention facility has been halted. As we advised the Administration, the Concord Naval Weapons Station is an unsafe and inhabitable environment, and to propose housing almost 50,000 people there was both dangerous and immoral. We fought this proposal along with our local officials and dedicated community and will continue to fight against the inhumane and unjust policies proposed by this Administration. It is important not to let our guard down as one tweet can change things.”

Congressman DeSaulnier voiced concerns to the Administration about creating a detention facility on Concord Naval Weapons Station and led an effort of California Members in asking for the release of a proposal identifying Concord Naval Weapons Station as a possible detention site. News of Concord making the list of proposed facilities first broke in Time Magazine and Congressman DeSaulnier immediately contacted local officials to work with them to fight this effort. He also held a Facebook town hall to answer questions from area residents.

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Former Concord Naval Weapons station possible site for 47,000 immigrant detention center

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

The former Concord Naval Weapons Station. Photo by Concordreuseproject.org

By Allen Payton

It was revealed on Friday that according to a copy of a draft memo obtained by TIME, the U.S. Navy is considering establishing a detention center for up to 47,000 illegal immigrants at the former Concord Naval Weapons Station. It would be one of four remote bases in California, including at Camp Pendleton, as well as Alabama and Arizona as part of the Trump Administration’s new zero tolerance policy of prosecuting and detaining all those who cross our border illegally, even for the first time.

The immigrants, including families with children, would remain in a “temporary and austere” tent city as the Navy memo describes it, according to the TIME article, until their court hearing, including those seeking asylum. The estimated cost to construct all of the facilities would be $233 million.

It’s not clear where the facility would be located on the former weapons station site. The land south of Highway 4 is now labeled the Concord Reuse Project and includes plans for as many as 12,000 homes in four transit villages, elementary school, office park and open space, with the 500-acre first phase by Lennar Urban planned for 4,400 homes. Attempts to reach Guy Bjerke, Concord’s Director of Community Reuse Planning for more details, were unsuccessful.

Concord Reuse Plan for the former Naval Weapons Station land south of Highway 4.

In the Executive Order he signed on Wednesday banning the separation of families apprehended at the border for crossing illegally, President Trump stated “The Secretary of Defense shall take all legally available measures to provide to the Secretary (of Homeland Security), upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families, and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law.”

Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11) whose district includes Concord, released a statement on Friday regarding the proposed detention center.

“STOP! The Administration needs to take a time out,” he stated. “This is no way to effectuate intelligent immigration policy, including for those seeking asylum. This is absolute madness and I oppose it wholeheartedly. If the Administration wants to have a rational dialogue about fixing our immigration system, I am happy to do that, but making up immigration policy on the fly is just wrong. We will fight this in every way we can.”

In addition, Margarget Hanlon Gradie, Executive Director of the Contra Costa AFL-CIO Labor Council, released the following statement on Friday opposing the proposed detention center.

“Working families oppose the proposal to jail asylum seekers anywhere in Concord, Contra Costa County, or America.

“We have worked for a dozen years to create a new vision for the Concord Naval Weapons Station that brings benefits to our community — not prisons.  We believe this land – the public’s land, belonging to the people of Concord – should be used for schools, hospitals, affordable homes and good jobs, not the criminal abuse of human rights.

We stand with Rep. Mark DeSaulnier and other elected leaders in their call to reject cynical political posturing. Our federal government needs to restore DACA for our Dreamers and create a path to citizenship in a functional immigration system that supports workers’ rights, family reunification, and the needs of local and global economies.”

Screenshot of a tent city-type detention center from TIME.com

Anna Roth, Director of Contra Costa Health Services also released a politically-charged statement on Friday regarding the proposed detention center.

“Contra Costa Health Services learned through media reports on Friday that the former Concord Naval Weapons Station may soon be used as a detention facility for as many as 47,000 undocumented immigrants.

As principle guardian of public health in Contra Costa County, charged with protecting all people who live here, Contra Costa Health Services condemns this dangerous, immoral proposal – not just the location of this facility, but its existence.

Whether the despicable practice of caging young children separately from their parents continues or family members are imprisoned together, there is no place in Contra Costa or any civilized society for these types of facilities.

We know as health professionals the irrevocable harm caused by family separation, a trauma that leads to higher incidence of addiction, mental illness and chronic disease among survivors. The consequences to the health of prisoners, particularly children, are not hard to predict.

The health impacts of institutional violence against immigrants also extend to residents of our county. As Health Services Director, I hear from patients and employees every day who are under duress because of recent immigration practices.

Many Contra Costa residents live in fear, documented and otherwise. Patients miss appointments because they’re afraid ICE will be waiting for them in the doctor’s office.

This climate of fear adversely affects our community’s health, and would only worsen with this detention facility pitched in the center of our county. For the health of all Contra Costans we demand that a detention camp not be located in our county.

Furthermore, we call for an immediate end to the practice of imprisoning undocumented immigrants, particularly children.”

Sincerely,

Anna M. Roth RN, MS, MPH Director | Contra Costa Health Services”

Immigrants who cross the U.S. border illegally and are detained awaiting their court hearing, are part of a backlog of 700,000 immigration court cases according to a report by Mother Jones, including those seeking asylum. But, according to a Washington Times article, the backlog is closer to one million cases. “James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which handles immigration cases, said Tuesday that the backlog of active cases is over 692,000 and that the courts have an additional 330,000 cases that have been put into ‘administrative closure,’ but that are still before the courts.”

The asylum process takes more time, causing the immigrants to remain in detention longer, which can be extended further if they arrive without documentation. (See requirements for being granted asylum). In order to seek asylum it must be done in the U.S., including at a port of entry, an embassy or consulate in the immigrant’s home country, or in another country, such as Mexico.

Those seeking asylum cannot work while they await the decision by the government until after 150 days have passed, according to information on the U.S.  Citizenship and Immigration Services’ website:

“You cannot apply for permission to work (employment authorization) in the United States at the same time you apply for asylum. You may apply for employment authorization if: 150 days have passed since you filed your complete asylum application, excluding any delays caused by you (such as a request to reschedule your interview) AND No decision has been made on your application.

According to a 2016 report by then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson during the final year of the Obama Administration, there has been an increase in families from Central America crossing the border illegally and being apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

“Unaccompanied children and families have presented new challenges in our immigration system,” he stated.

Those figures show an increase from 15,000 families crossing illegally in 2013 to almost 78,000 in 2016.

The first time an immigrant crosses illegally they are charged with a misdemeanor. Each subsequent illegal crossing it is a felony. Previously, the parents of those crossing as families for the first time have been apprehended, cited and released, pending their court hearing. But, many of them never appeared for their court date. The Trump Administration, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ new zero tolerance policy, requires the arrest and detention of even those who cross the border illegally for the first time.

According to the press release by the Department of Justice, the “policy comes as the Department of Homeland Security reported a 203 percent increase in illegal border crossings from March 2017 to March 2018, and a 37 percent increase from February 2018 to March 2018—the largest month-to-month increase since 2011.”

According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Statistics Yearbook for 2016, each year, on average the U.S. allows in one million foreign nationals who are granted lawful permanent residence (i.e. immigrants who receive a ‘green card’), admitted as temporary nonimmigrants, granted asylum or refugee status, or are naturalized.”

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

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Sheriff releases response to DOJ inquiry on immigration law compliance following Herald request

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

Sheriff David O. Livingston. From CCCSheriff website.

By Daniel Borsuk

Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston has provided at the request of the Contra Costa Herald a copy of his Dec. 1 letter to answer questions whether the department is out of compliance with federal immigration laws that entitled the Coroner-Sheriff Office to nearly $25 million in federal grants in 2016. CCSheriff ltr to DOJ re 8 USC 1373 Compliance 12-1-17

The sheriff’s letter was due Dec, 8, and he essentially informed U. S. Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan Hanson that the Office of the Contra Costa County Sheriff-Coroner is in compliance with federal immigration policy. That is in spite of the fact that beginning Jan. 1, 2018 California law enforcement agencies must begin to enforce Senate Bill 54, the California Values Act or what is better known as the sanctuary state law.

Livingston included with the letter his department’s draft policy on how it will and won’t cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which was issued Dec. 3, 2013 and updated on Nov. 16, 2017.

In his letter to Hanson, Livingston wrote:

“The California Values Act, with we must comply. That Act provides specifically that it does not authorize information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful of an individual, or from requesting from federal immigration authority’s immigration status information lawful or unlawful of an individual, or maintaining or exchanging that information with any other federal, state, or local government entity.”

Sheriff Livingston missed attending the Dec. 7 meeting of the Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee meeting, disappointing a number of committee members who wanted to hear him comment and answer questions about the draft policy on ICE-undocumented jail inmates, but obviously were unable to do so.

“I am surprised and disappointed that the sheriff is not here,” said District 1 Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond at the committee meeting. “I don’t know if this has ever happened before where the sheriff has not appeared at a Public Protection Committee meeting.”

Please see related article.

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Contra Costa Sheriff announces findings in ICE detention complaints investigation

Friday, December 22nd, 2017

Sheriff David Livingston, center, speaks with Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (to his left) and staff during a tour of the West County Detention Facility in Richmond on Monday, Nov. 27, 2017. Herald file photo.

Refutes claims made by illegal alien female inmates against West County Detention Facility

The West County Detention Facility. Herald filed photo

The Office of the Sheriff has completed its investigation into complaints raised by several Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) female detainees at the West County Detention Facility (WCDF) in Richmond, California. The complaints were first reported in a local newspaper. The Sheriff’s Office immediately launched an investigation. Investigators interviewed 110 witnesses, with audio recordings and translators where necessary, and viewed hundreds of hours of video surveillance recordings. They also examined log books, computer entries and other evidence. (See related article)

The investigation found that nearly all of the complaints were unfounded and unsubstantiated. Claims of being “locked down” for 23 hours a day were false. The most time any ICE detainee was confined to their dormitory room was one hour and 24 minutes. These “lock downs” are commonly done for facility counts or for administrative reasons. At WCDF the detainees have keys to their rooms and free use of common bathroom facilities.

Sheriff David O. Livingston. From CCCSheriff website.

In one example, the person who complained in the article of being confined to her room for 23 hours was in fact confined for several days in a room with a full toilet and sink. She was confined in such a manner for disciplinary purposes after she assaulted another detainee.

Regarding the use of “red” biohazard bags for toilet needs, there was no evidence that any detainee was forced to use the bags in that manner. In very few cases detainees did use the bags for that purpose in violation of policy. Biohazard bag distribution is now limited to those detainees who are ill or have other medical needs. All inmates are free to use the bathrooms at any time, and even during “lock down” periods of approximately one hour, by notifying a Deputy Sheriff by using the call button in their rooms.

There were two complaints alleging limited access to healthcare that also appear to be unfounded based on detainee interviews. However, Contra Costa Health Services will be reviewing those specific complaints.

“Consistent with independent ICE inspections, we found that the alleged policy violations were largely unfounded,” said Sheriff David Livingston. “In fact, many detainees told us they are well treated at the West County Detention Facility.”

Sheriff Livingston added, “Some issues were identified, such as the use of profanity by a staff member or the quicker replacement of detainees’ room keys when they are lost or damaged. We will use this opportunity to improve wherever we can.”

The investigation will now be provided to the California Attorney General as Sheriff Livingston promised he would do.

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Supervisors fund illegal immigrant family aid program to monitor ICE actions in county

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Helps pay for “Rapid Response” inspectors, education workshops, legal aid sessions

By Daniel Borsuk

In response to policies and actions by President Trump and to assist illegal immigrant families “facing immediate separation due to deportation,” Contra Costa County supervisors unanimously agreed to use $500,000 of AB 109 funds to cover expenses and match funds from non-profit organizations for the launch of a Stand Together CoCo pilot project in January. Stand Together CoCo 8_16_17

The proposal by the Contra Costa Immigration Rights Alliance, originally submitted earlier this year needed a total of $1,002,750 for the program. The county will use funds from state Assembly Bill 109 automobile license fee revenues. According to their Facebook page, “CCIRA seeks to end ICE collaboration in Contra Costa and to promote immigrant rights, inclusion and a spirt of welcome in cities throughout the county.” Draft CoCoCo Immigrant Legal & Ed P-ship

The effort had already rounded up $585,000 from six non-profit organizations that will help fund Stand Together CoCo operate during its inaugural year of operations consisting of education workshops, legal aid sessions, and the hiring and oversight of 12 Rapid Response inspectors who will be dispatched around the county to observe and take notes on how United States Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents conduct themselves at arrest sites.

According to the staff report, “The proposal requests that the Board of Supervisors authorize the Office of the Public Defender to establish Stand Together CoCo as a pilot project. The requested allocation is $500,000 in FY 17/18 funding to support operations in the January-June 2018 first phase, with a further commitment that the County will provide $500,000 in annual support in each of fiscal years 2018-19 and 2019-20. Working with key local partners, Stand Together CoCo will then use this commitment to generate funding from other public and private sources.”

Presently the program has received letters of commitment from the Y & H Soda Foundation of $275,000, the San Francisco Foundation of $100,000, the East Bay Community Foundation of $50,000, and the Firedoll Foundation of $50,000, and letters of intention from the Richmond Community Foundation of $10,000 and the California Endowment of $100,000.

During the public hearing portion that drew 21 persons speaking in support of the program that Contra Costa County Deputy Public Defender Ali Saidi will oversee, District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen questioned about the functions of the Rapid Response Dispatch Inspectors and whether they would create potential legal problems with the federal government should Rapid Response Inspectors interfere with ICE agents.

“I don’t want to see ordinary citizens getting in the way of the actions of ICE agents,” Andersen said

In the early going it looked like Andersen was going to possibly cast the lone negative vote, but later on she decided to vote along with her colleagues.

“I’m going to take a leap of faith.  I am concerned about public safety,” the supervisor later said before casting a yes vote for the program.

Andersen also voiced concern that this new county-backed immigrant rights program might duplicate services already provided in the county through existing nonprofit organizations like the Contra Costa Crisis Center.

“I don’t want to spend one half million dollars on duplicating services,” said the supervisor who represents a large minority population consisting of Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani residents.

“A Google search doesn’t show what’s really being done,” District 1 Supervisor John Gioia said in response to Andersen’s concern about the potential duplication of legal aid services for immigrants.

Deborah Bernstein of the Jewish Family and Community Services in Walnut Creek said her organization has served 875 county residents seeking immigration legal assistance from January through August.

“These people are living in a high level of fear,” she said.

Since January, Catholic Charities of Contra Costa County has helped 924 people receive legal immigration aid.

“We’ve seen a big increase in people needing help,” said Christopher Martinez of Catholic Charities.

Rubicon Contract Approved

In other action, supervisors approved a $408,750 contract with Rubicon Programs, Inc., an ex-felon nonprofit assistance program, after receiving a letter from Contra Costa Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston that he is now satisfied the one-year contract extension complies with contract protocol.  Last week, supervisors had delayed action on the contract because of the sheriff’s concern that the contract did not go through adequate review by a county contract panel.

The practice of assessing $30 a day cost living charges for juveniles serving sentences at the county’s two juvenile facilities – Juvenile Hall in Martinez and Boys Ranch in Discovery Bay, is over.  Supervisors voted 5-0 to officially end the bill that parents or legal guardian had to pay the county upon the release of their child for the daily living (meals, lodging, other expenses).  Contra Costa County joins other counties like San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Cruz and Los Angeles ditching the juvenile hall daily cost of living fee because it is viewed as being financially retaliatory to parents of children in the juvenile justice system.  The county had begun to temporarily cease the billing practice in 2016.

Next week, supervisors will vote on permanently ending the $17 daily electronic surveillance fee of minors in the juvenile justice system.

The county can afford to eliminate the daily cost of living fee and daily electronic surveillance fee because county officials laid off two fulltime juvenile hall clerical positions.

Supervisors also instructed John Kopchik, director of the Conservation and Development Department, to present to the board by next February proposed regulations for short-term rentals in unincorporated areas of the county.  Supervisors especially representing Discovery Bay, Kensington, Alamo, and Black Hawk have seen a surge in short-term rentals that have produced parking, noise and other problems.  County planners will develop an ordinance by examining what other jurisdictions like San Francisco, San Luis Obispo, Sacramento and other counties have drafted.

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