By Assemblymember Cristina Garcia and Senator Lena Gonzalez
Letter to Governor Newsom
California has long been a beacon for immigrants, their safety, and immigrant rights. Most recently, California advanced the protections of our immigrant communities by passing Senate Bill 54 & Senate Bill 613 in 2017. As a result of SB 54, California became a Sanctuary State for our immigrant population; SB 613 made it so that the Departments trusted to serve these communities are responsible with their information, and do not share their data with the federal government. California is a leader in protecting vulnerable populations.
Under the current Administration we have witnessed countless attacks on immigrant populations. The Flores Settlement agreed upon in 1997, placed limits on the amount of time children could be incarcerated in, as well as the acceptable conditions of immigration detention centers. In spite of the terms of the Flores settlement, the current Administration initiated the “zero tolerance” policy that drastically escalated child separations at the southern border. A recently released report by Disability Rights, CA titled The Detention of Immigrant Children with Disabilities in California: A Snapshot confirms the claims of multiple news agencies and nonprofit organizations, and underscores that the conditions of these detention centers are horrendous and inhumane. Recently, I have become aware of Wayfair LLC (Wayfair) contracting with BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS) to provide them with about $200,000 worth of bedroom furniture destined for new child detention centers. BCFS is a nonprofit that operates child detention centers for the federal Department of Health and Human Services. According to CNN Business News, BCFS is set to open a new facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, which will accommodate about 1,600 unaccompanied minors.
The workers of Wayfair are planning to walk out in protest of this contract. I am asking that we, as a State follow the example of these brave workers and cease vesting in publicly held companies that contract with, or provide services to companies that operate detention centers. California should not invest our pension systems funds such as CaIPERS, CaISTRS, & UCRS in such companies; also the Department of General Services and other State agencies should not contract with these companies. California should not remain complicit to these actions through continued investment; instead we should use the tool of investment to hold these companies accountable for contracting with the federal Government and furthering these disastrous policies.
It is extremely important that California stop funding actions directly or indirectly through investment and state contracts. We owe these vulnerable populations more, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we are not contributing to the expansion of the current inhumane treatment of them. As a state we should step in where the federal government has failed and we must do our part to ensure that we are not be funding companies that benefit from the Federal Administrations draconian immigration policies. The success of our state pension system should not be on the backs of minors being detained.
Assemblymember Cristina Garcia represents the 58th District. Senator Lena Gonzalez represents the 33rd District.