Immigrant Activists Cheer as ICE Ends Contract with Santa Ana Jail

Officials and immigrant activists in Santa Ana are taking a victory lap after Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced it would no longer be using the city’s jail to detain people in the country illegally. ICE will end its contract with Santa Ana for use of the facility in less than 90 days.  

ICE downplayed the significance of the decision, calling it “by far the smallest contract detention facility” used by the agency. But Santa Ana immigration activists basked in a sense of vindication.

"It means for one city, we proved that it is possible to make an agency that tears families apart feel unwelcome and be unwelcome,” said Hairo Cortes, Program Coordinator for Orange County Immigrant Youth United (OCIYU).

City officials and immigrant advocates have gone out of their way to make the immigration hardliners feel unwelcome. In December, the Santa Ana City Council approved a resolution declaring Santa Ana to be a sanctuary for undocumented persons. It also voted to reduce the maximum number of immigrant detainees at the jail in question, which may have played a central role in ICE’s decision last week. Additionally, City officials recently took steps toward establishing a legal defense fund for illegal immigrants facing deportation.