Campaign Name: Stop Immigrant Detention Expansion in Santa Ana
Target: Santa Ana City Council
Demand: Reject proposal to expand immigrant detention at the Santa Ana City Jail
When the Santa Ana City Council considered a proposal to expand the number of immigrants the city would detain for ICE at profit in its jail (specifically transgender immigrant women), community members, immigrant rights, and LGBTQ rights organizations highlighted the fact that all the council members are Latino Democrats operating a for profit immigrant detention business.
The proposal came for a vote at time when Donald Trump reached the top of the polls due to his attacks against immigrants. This made it more toxic for an all Latino, all Democratic city council to continue investing in profit driven human suffering.
- Orange County Immigrant Youth United launched a petition calling on the City Council to reject the proposal and begin taking immediate steps to cancel the City’s immigrant detention agreement with ICE.
- Hairo Cortes from Orange County Immigrant Youth United published an Op-Ed in the Voice of OC attacking the proposal, and urging the council to divest from it’s immigrant detention business.
- A local coalition circulated a letter of opposition to the proposal among local organizations and community leaders to sign on to, along with second letter of opposition for national Immigrant Rights and LGBTQ organizations to sign on to.
- The local coalition mobilized over one hundred community members, including transgender immigrant women who had been detained at the facility, to attend the City Council meeting and speak during the public comments against the proposal and the ICE Contract.
The coalition consisted of local organizations including Orange County Immigrant Youth United, RAIZ, DeColores Queer OC, The LGBT Center, CIVIC, Friends of Orange County Detainees, and Santa Ana Building Healthy Communities. The local coalition also received organizing and communications support from national partners including: Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement, Mijente, and Transgender Law Center.
By turning out over one hundred people to provide over three hours of testimony against the proposal to expand immigrant detention, the campaign organizers made voting for the proposal politically toxic. The biggest breakthrough in moving the Council from simply tabling the proposal for another meeting toward voting against it came when transgender immigrant women who had been detained at the City Jail under the immigrant detention agreement with ICE testified about the abuses they experienced inside the facility as well as the immoral aspect of incarcerating people for profit.
As a result of all the testimony against the proposal, the city council voted unanimously to reject it. The council also directed the city manager to begin studying a way to cancel the city’s contract with ICE as well as to begin figuring out a path for the city to shut down its jail altogether. In May of 2016 the council voted to allow the contract with ICE to expire in 2020 at the latest.
The results of the campaign also attracted new, powerful opposition from the city’s Police Officers Association, which represents jail employees. During the 2016 elections the Police Officers’ Association Spent $400,000 to elect two new council members opposed to the closing of the city jail and the cancelation of the ICE contract. A four member majority is still in support of ending the ICE contract and shutting down the city jail.
The organizing continues.