Capitol Alert

Brown vetoes ban on for-profit immigrant detention centers

Residents at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, which houses women and children caught crossing the border illegally, on May 14, 2015.
Residents at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, which houses women and children caught crossing the border illegally, on May 14, 2015. The New York Times

Citing ongoing discussions at the federal level, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday rejected a proposed ban on the use of private immigrant detention centers in California.

Senate Bill 1289, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, would have prohibited local law enforcement agencies from contracting with for-profit companies to detain immigrants on behalf of federal authorities. These facilities, which often hold those in the country illegally during deportation proceedings or while they apply for asylum, have been under fire from civil rights groups as substandard and abusive.

The Obama administration announced earlier this month that it is considering ending the use of private detention centers, and the Homeland Security Advisory Council is expected to make a recommendation by the end of November. Immigration officials have pushed back on the plan, arguing they have no cost-effective alternatives.

“I have been troubled by recent reports detailing unsatisfactory conditions and limited access to counsel in private immigration detention facilities,” Brown wrote in his veto message of the bill, which passed the Legislature along party lines. “These actions indicate a more permanent solution to this issue may be at hand. I urge federal authorities to act swiftly.”

Lara said he was disappointed by Brown’s veto. “It is my sincere hope that the Obama Administration will arrive at the same conclusion I have and decide to take meaningful action to shut down these for-profit immigration detention centers once and for all,” he said in a statement.

Brown on Wednesday signed another know-your-rights measure for immigrants. Assembly Bill 2792, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, will require local jails, before an interview between federal immigration officials and an immigrant in their custody, to notify the immigrant that the interview is voluntary and they can have an attorney present.

Alexei Koseff: 916-321-5236, @akoseff

  Comments