Immigrants rights activists celebrate ICE notice to terminate Santa Ana Jail contract

SANTA ANA – The morning after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified the city it would terminate its contract at Santa Ana Jail, a small group of immigrants rights activists gathered, Friday, outside the detention facility to celebrate and claim credit.

For the past four years, immigrants rights groups and community members have pressured Santa Ana to back off the contract with ICE that the city has been using to repay its jail build debt.

“We applaud the community for the end of this contract after over a decade of profiting off the backs of the immigrant community,” said Roberto Herrera, 25, a community engagement advocate for Resilience OC who was among about 10 activists gathered Friday.

On Thursday, the city received a letter from ICE giving a 90-day notice of termination, which under the existing contract, set to expire June 30, 2020, could have been served by either party.

Jennicet Gutierrez, a community organizer for the Familia Trans Queer Liberation Movement, pointed to organized actions in 2014 and 2015, and a several-day hunger strike in May 2016 that pushed the city council to vote in favor of phasing out the contract.

“We were putting pressure on council members to put an end to the contract and give us the respect and dignity we deserve as human beings,” Gutierrez said.

ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a statement Thursday that 74 immigration detainees remained at the jail, at 62 Civic Center Plaza, and that they would be transferred to housing within the agency’s detention system.

Santa Ana faces a $24 million debt plus interest through 2024 for building the jail it opened in 1997, and receives about $340,000 in monthly revenue from the ICE contract.

Hairo Cortes, program coordinator for Orange County Immigrant Youth United, called on the city “to make amends for having participated in the human detention for-profit system” by advocating for the detainees’ release instead of transfer to another…

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