EL CENTRO â€“ Placed as an emergency item during Tuesdayâ€™s board meeting, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously, 5-0, to approve a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown requesting he veto Senate Bill 1289.
â€œImperial County is the home to the Imperial Regional Detention Center, a privately-operated immigration detention center,â€ said Ralph Cordova Jr., county executive officer for Imperial County. â€œThis facility is less than two years old and currently employees about 230 Imperial County residents.â€
Cordova said the facility is considered a model facility with excellent essential services, including medical and educational, and said people from other areas have visited the facility in an effort to learn how to build others outside of Imperial County.
Senate Bill 1289 (SB 1289) would prohibit local law enforcement agencies and local governments from contracting with for-profit-entities to detain immigrants on behalf of federal immigration authorities.
â€œWe all know that the city of Holtville has a five-year contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and receives more than $160,000 a year for the operation of the immigration detention center that constitutes more than six percent of the cityâ€™s total general fund â€“ thatâ€™s a lot of money,â€ said Cordova.
The objective of SB 1289 is to increase the accountability of immigration detention facilities to adhere to national immigration standards. The bill would force the closure of many compliant detention facilities due to the inability to renew, modify, or enter into any contract agreements after January 1, 2018, such as the Imperial Regional Detention Facility.
â€œAlthough 230 jobs may not appear to be a significant number, in an economically disadvantaged community with an unemployment rate of 24.2 percent, any loss of jobs would substantially impact our economy and our communityâ€™s quality of life,â€ said Cordova.
The impact is not limited to those who are directly affected by losing a job, Cordova added, but there are ancillary support services that will be affected if the facility is forced to close.
Holtville is expected to adopt a resolution on September 16, opposing the ratification of the legislation, and urging Governor Brown to veto SB 1289 in order to keep much-needed jobs in Imperial Valley and vital revenue to the City of Holtville.
â€œThe governor is already signing off on bills, so we are hoping to get this letter to him on time,â€ said Ray Castillo, District 5 Supervisor.