Contra Costa sheriff to close ICE detention facility in county

Livingston cites growing costs of program, impacts of public protests

Contra Costa County Sheriff David Livingston announced plans Tuesday to end a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service that allowed ICE to house detainees at the West County Detention Facility in Richmond.

The undocumented migrants affected by this move could be relocated to other facilities as far away as Colorado or Hawaii, Livingston said, based on past precedent set when other counties have taken similar actions.

There were a number of factors driving the decision, according to Livingston, but money was definitely one of them. The contract generates roughly $2.5 to $3 million in revenue, but costs have risen in recent years and the rate paid by the federal government to house ICE detainees has not.

"Long term, the contract is just not sustainable," Livingston said Tuesday at a news conference in Martinez.

The frequent protests outside the jail were also a factor.

"Managing protests in Richmond have become expensive and time consuming for our staff. And to be fair, to be very fair," Livingston said, "one must acknowledge a growing chorus of community groups and individuals from both within and outside the county who have focused on undocumented immigrants issues."

"They raise important concerns," Livingston said.

"I think you'd have to be living in a cave not to understand that there's a growing discontent here in the community," he added later while responding to questions from reporters.

Supervisor John Gioia, who has spent the last year calling for this contract's end, called this a "historic day" for Contra Costa County.

But Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said, "I am here to share a different perspective. I am sorry we're losing this contract."

The loss of the $2.5 to $3 million in revenue was one of the barriers faced in getting to this point.

The loss, Livingston said, would have likely required him to layoff sheriff's deputies, but state money was found to backfill some of the hole and the difference will be met with reserve funds.

Mitchoff said, "It is the Contra Costa County taxpayer who will have to fill that hole."

She also acknowledged that the local families of detainees currently held at the West County Detention Facility may be adversely affected by the cancellation of this contract, in that seeing their loved ones will require them to travel out of the area.

"Those same undocumented families that we care about will no longer have easy access to their family members during this trying time," Mitchoff said.

Rev. Deborah Lee, with the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, issued a statement Tuesday afternoon calling on ICE and Livingston to orchestrate a "just and responsible closure" rather than simply transferring detainees away from their families.

"Closing this facility is not yet a victory," Lee said. "It will not be a real victory unless current ICE detainees are released and reunited with their families.

"Our ultimate victory is an end to immigration detention, not merely the closure of one facility," Lee said, calling on other sheriffs around the state to "fully disentangle and separate themselves" from the deportation system.

In a statement echoing Lee's concerns, the Contra Costa Immigrant Rights Alliance said, "While ending the ICE contract is a step in the right direction, we are concerned that the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff's Office made this decision without consulting community members and those who are directly impacted.

"ICE and county leadership must do more to ensure a just and responsible closure — not simply a transfer of people who are detained to other detention facilities, far from their loved ones with limited to no access to legal representation."

Livingston said that he would be working with ICE to ensure an orderly wrap up of operations, and that federal officials would make an effort to resolve the cases of the affected detainees before the contract ends after 120 days.

— Bay City News Service

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34 people like this
Posted by Gus
a resident of Diablo
on Jul 11, 2018 at 6:39 am

So, Rev. Lee, would it be your intent to just release everyone? The outcry over ICE is ridiculous. The US needs a process in place to deal with illegal aliens. The US, and especially the state of California, cannot afford to support these illegals with our social services. Taxes in CA are the highest in the nation and we still cannot provide enough funding for our schools (although there is a ton of waste there, too). Illegal immigration causes a huge strain on the welfare system. While the open border utopia sounds nice in theory, it not fiscally possible...not to mention some of the bad characters with harmful intent that would be freely let in.

41 people like this
Posted by Dv
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2018 at 7:35 am

I am so sick of people using the term "immigrant" equally to those who come here legally, and to those who come here illegally. We are a nation of legal immigrants, not illegal immigrants. We are also a nation based on the rule of law, where the law is to be enforced in a predictable way, so those who choose to break the law know the consequences of their illegal behavior. Without the rule of law being enforced, we become an unpredictable, chaotic and lawless society.

It is also ridiculous for people to call for the elimination of ICE law enforcement agents who bravely risk their lives every day to enforce the laws. ICE agents do not write the law, they simply enforce the law. If you do not like the law, you get it changed. You do not treat these law enforcement agents like criminals and call for the elimination of their jobs. What is next, eliminate all law enforcement agents?

The biggest threat to our nation is not Russia, China, Iran, or some other country, but rather losing our rule of law and becoming a haven for those who do not respect the law.

28 people like this
Posted by Ralph Kramden
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2018 at 8:16 am

Livingston = just another government official who fails to realize who pays his salary. Do what's right for the taxpayers and enforce the rule of law or we'll find someone who will.

28 people like this
Posted by NL
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2018 at 8:42 am

I agree 100% with the comments made by DV. These are ILLEGAL Immigranrs, BIG difference. If you make the decision to break our laws and cross illegally, you face consequences. Open boarders creates anarchy and would break our country financially to support ILLEGAL immigrants.

13 people like this
Posted by Rick
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2018 at 11:42 am

Rick is a registered user.

You don't have to look very far beyond the statement, "The loss [of the $2.5 to $3 million in revenue was one of the barriers faced in getting to this point], Livingston said, would have likely required him to layoff sheriff's deputies, but state [sic] money was found to backfill some of the hole and the difference will be met with reserve funds". Really!!! - - "state money [sic] was found". More likely poached from school or Cal Trans budgets - neither of which are sanctuaries for and of anything. And, no mention of renegotiation of the ICE contract to help cover increased costs, including crowd control at the gates. Shameful - AND, routine - CA behavior.

11 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2018 at 3:40 pm

So --- is Livingston running for re-election this year? If so, who is running against him, I'd like to vote for whoever that is.

11 people like this
Posted by Seth
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2018 at 10:28 pm

Seth is a registered user.

If you go to the Immigration & Naturalization website, there is no such term "illegal immigrant". The proper terminology is "illegal alien". We must not allow the sugarcoating to infect our minds. Let us also remember that the our ancestors were "Settlers" to this country, not immigrants. They were requested to come here to build houses, railroads, farms etc. The people coming here now are just looking to milk the system and send the money back to their own country. There is no comparison to what our fore fathers came here to accomplish. Once we remember this fact, we can have an informed conversation. Illegal Aliens are not welcome nor are we calling them here to perform any task to improve this country. Please send them home and stop wasting space & money in our jails!!!!

6 people like this
Posted by Barry
a resident of Alamo
on Jul 12, 2018 at 8:34 am

Keep voting democrat and the southern states will be given to fexico

9 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Jul 12, 2018 at 10:30 am

C. R. Mudgeon is a registered user.

Ironically, the ones who will be disadvantaged most by this decision are the family members of any of the ICE detainees. The ICE detainees are not going to be released, they are just going to be moved to other facilities. Those other facilities will most likely be fairly distant, making it much harder for family members to visit. Way to go, protesters!

The decision is a good example of political cowardice in action. I'm not sure if the decision was solely Livingston's, or if the County Board needed to vote on it. (I get the impression that Livingston just decided this, even though County Board member John Goia has expressed his approval.)

In any case, the decision doesn't actually benefit anyone, other than possibly quieting the relatively small group of protesters. But even that will be just temporary, as they will now be protesting the transfer of the ICE detainees to other facilities. And, the protesters will be emboldened in other areas, now that they know that Livingston is so easily "influenced"....

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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