San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

To #FlattenTheCurve, 150 groups urge Gov. Newsom to halt expansion of immigration detention, enact moratorium on transfers to ICE

Sacramento, CA – Citing the “federal administration’s erratic and irresponsible behavior with respect to COVID-19 and the health, safety and welfare of individuals in immigration detention,” 150 immigrant rights, civil rights, and health organizations sent a letter today urging California Gov. Gavin Newsom to take executive action to protect the lives of people in detention – and in turn, the health of all Californians. 

Anchored by the San Francisco Marin Medical Society, the ACLU of California, and Immigrant Defense Advocates, the letter calls upon the Governor to join the call to free detained people, and specifically to take the following executive actions:

  • Halt the expansion of all immigration detention facilities in California effective immediately
  • Suspend the transfer of individuals from California’s custody to ICE

The letter outlines the Governor’s legal authority under the California Emergency Services Act to halt the deeply controversial attempt by private prison corporations to expand immigration detention facilities in California. Numerous reports have revealed that severe abuse and medical neglect are an intrinsic part of the immigration detention system.

The letter notes that the Governor has the authority to turn these facilities – which are still in the process of being converted into immigration detention centers – in to hospitals for the benefit of the public. 

Additionally, the letter calls upon the Governor to enact a moratorium on transfers, notifications, and other practices which facilitate ICE arresting people in state or local law enforcement’s custody, noting that “to allow CDCR and local law enforcement agencies to continue to transfer people to ICE custody in the midst of this outbreak could amount to a death sentence.”

The call for the Governor to take action comes as thousands of doctors are sounding the alarm about the serious risks that all incarcerated people – people in jails, prisons, and immigration detention – face in the wake of the pandemic. The letter backs a related effort calling for the release of people from state prison.

Public health leaders have indicated that our well-being as a society in this time of crisis is dependent upon releasing as many people as possible from all types of incarceration. Action by the Governor would uphold the values of compassion, humanity, and solidarity – and save lives.

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