U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is facing fights in communities where activists and lawmakers want to block the agency from operating or expanding private detention centers. Legislators in Maryland and Washington state are debating proposals to restrict private immigration detention. In California, local officials blocked plans for the creation of two of three such centers that ICE pushed despite a new state law intended to prevent them, the Wall Street Journal reports. The battles underscore how political leaders in left-leaning communities are looking for new ways to resist Trump administration policies that constituents oppose.
ICE relied on private-prison companies to house 81 percent of the roughly 44,000 migrants it detained in 218 facilities as of January, says the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project. Lawmakers advocating for the bills banning or limiting these facilities argue they have poor records. “Right now people are suffering and dying in ICE detention centers across the country,” said Maryland Delegate Vaughn Stewart. “There has been medical negligence, isolation, abuse and even death.” ICE spokeswoman April Grant said efforts such as the ones in Maryland, Washington and California complicate the agency’s enforcement efforts. “Policies and laws like this only result in detainees being housed at detention centers located further away from their families and communities,” she said. “ICE seeks straightforward cooperation with all local law enforcement and elected officials.” Last month, Attorney General William Barr said law-enforcement officers are being “put in harm’s way by … ideologically driven policies,” and announced a series of lawsuits against local jurisdictions.