New Report Charges California Prison System Racially Profiles and Deports Individuals to ICE Based on Prejudiced Assumptions

Josh Dawsey/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

By Cheyenne Galloway 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – ACLU NorCal is shedding light on “systemic injustices” conducted by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) towards immigrants, refugees, and other foreigners based on information garnered by a Public Records Act investigation released this week by civil rights groups.

According to the investigation cited by ACLU NorCal, the report “Profile, Tag, Deport: CDCR Betrays California’s Values” analyzed over 2,500 unseen emails and records of the CDCR spanning from August to September 2022.

The documents reveal how California’s most prominent state agency regularly targets thousands of once-incarcerated Californians, green card holders, and even U.S. citizens in their deportation program.

ACLU NorCal and the report documented that the agency transferred more than 200 people from CDCR facilities into ICE custody in the investigation’s two-month period.

Sana Singh, an immigrants’ rights fellow at the ACLU of Northern California, said, “We are learning more and more about how our state prison system is choosing to transfer Californians who have completed their sentences to ICE detention. CDCR has, purely by its own initiative, invented a two-tiered system of incarceration that rips Californians from their home.”

Messages between CDCR and ICE disclose, advocates state, prison staff often flag people for ICE based on prejudiced assumptions gathered from people’s names, dialects, and places of origin.

According to ACLU NorCal, when marked with “a potential ICE hold” (an arbitrary distinction created by CDCR), they are denied training, rehabilitation, credit-earning opportunities, and education and often are given minimal options to challenge these injustices.

The report noted “One official at Avenal State prison even jokingly said, “Should we just put U.S. citizens on a piece of paper, fold it up and put it in a hat, and then write on another piece of paper, Mexican, fold it up and also throw that in the hat and pick one.”

As reported by ACLU NorCal, the records also divulge the violations of constitutional protections by CDCR staff, noting in one case CDCR will hold people past their release date, which allows ICE to detain them. Several state prisons even have an “ICE desk” that facilitates the deportation process.

“CDCR’s deportation practices fly in the face of California’s pro-immigrant commitments,” stated Carl Takei, a criminal Justice Reform Program Manager at the Asian Law Caucus, adding, “Our state resources should be used to keep families together and communities whole.”

The report, published by ACLU of Northern California, Asian Prisoner Support Committee, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Asian Law Caucus, and Root & Rebound, urges California to address this unjust deportation issue by passing AB 1306.

Also referred to as the Harmonizing Our Measure for Equality (HOME) Act, the legislation authored by Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo “harmonizes state immigration policy with existing criminal justice reforms.”

“The HOME Act offers an important opportunity to uphold Californians’ values of fairness and equality. With the HOME Act, immigrants who meet all of the requirements for release under broadly supported criminal justice laws will be able to return home to their families,” said Ny Nourn, Co-Director of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee.

To access the full report on the CDCR, visit:

About The Author

Cheyenne Galloway recently graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a double major in Political Science and Italian Studies. Graduating at the top of her class and achieving the distinction Laurea cum laude in her Italian Studies major, she showcases her enthusiasm for knowledge, finding ways to think critically and creatively. She is particularly interested in writing and reporting on social justice and human rights, but as a writing/reporting generalist, she enjoys researching and communicating various topics through written expression.

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