ICE Ends Detention Contract With Santa Ana

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Santa Ana Jail  (Google Maps)

The federal government is ending a contract to house immigration detainees in a Southern California city that recently declared itself a sanctuary for immigrants, officials said Friday.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent a letter Thursday to Santa Ana announcing the decision to end the long-standing contract. Federal officials said the arrangement was no longer cost-effective after the city cut the number of detainees allowed at its jail.

Santa Ana officials capped the number of detainees at 128 in December as part of an ongoing plan to phase out use of its jail for immigration detainees by 2020 in a unanimous vote. A month later, the predominantly Latino city of 325,000 people passed a local sanctuary law in response to President Trump's planned immigration crackdown.

The move comes as the Trump administration seeks to expand the use of immigration detention and step up deportations. Many cities, including Santa Ana, have adopted so-called sanctuary policies to bar local resources from being used to carry out immigration enforcement.

In Santa Ana, the city has long planned to stop having its jail used to house immigration detainees amid pushback from community members. Earlier last year, the city's jail housed more than 200 detainees for ICE.


Immigration authorities will transfer detainees to other facilities when the contract ends in 90 days, ICE said in a statement. Currently, 74 detainees are housed in Santa Ana.

Immigrant advocates said they're concerned about the well-being of gay and transgender detainees who have been housed in a special unit in Santa Ana's jail.

Santa Ana currently receives about $340,000 a month in revenue from the ICE contract, the city said in a statement.

The jail was also part of ICE's Transgender Care and Classification Committee pilot program, making it the first facility in the country to consider transgender people's preferences for housing.

KQED's Lisa Pickoff-White and The Associated Press contributed to this report.