Immigration Agency Cancels Santa Ana Jail Contract

Federal immigration authorities have decided to end their contract to house detainees at the Santa Ana Jail, pointing to the City Council’s decision to reduce the number of detainees who could be held there, according to a city news release.

It said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, in a letter to the city, announced they were triggering a 90-day period to cancel the contract. It follows plans by the council to phase out the contract entirely by 2020, as well as a decision in December to reduce the maximum detainee population to 128 people at a time.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) values its longstanding relationship with the City of Santa Ana, but recent actions by the city to drastically curtail the number of beds available at the city’s jail to house immigration detainees meant the existing detention contract was no longer viable or cost effective,” ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice said in a statement to the Orange County Register.

The move was met with praise from pro-immigration activists, along with questions about how to handle losing the millions of dollars in revenue that the contract brings to the city.

“In the fight to make Santa Ana live up to its values we just took a huge step forward,” said Hairo Cortes, an activist with Orange County Immigrant Youth United, in a statement.

“In the fight to push back against deportations and detention we just made one city inhospitable for ICE. As the ICE contract is phased out over the next 90 days the city needs to take responsibility for its role in profiting from human suffering and move quickly to advocate for the release of all immigrants detained in its jail.”

It’s unclear what the city will do to make up for the loss in revenue

City staff noted in their announcement of the cancellation that Santa Ana receives about $340,000 per month from the ICE contract.

The entire jail – which also houses U.S. Marshals Service detainees and handles bookings of Santa Ana arrestees before they go to county jail – employed 67 full time correctional officers and 19 part time officers as of December.

And Councilman Jose Solorio says he’s worried about family members and attorneys of detainees now having to travel long distances to visit them.

“In many ways, I’m more concerned with the financial and time hardships that will be created for local residents and their attorneys to visit family members or friends in ICE detention centers that will now be many hours away or in another state,” Solorio said in a statement to the Register.

It’s unclear where the Santa Ana Jail detainees will be held in the future. ICE has contracts to house detainees in two jails run by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, as well as a private jail near Victorville, about an 80 mile drive from Santa Ana.

Nick Gerda covers county government and Santa Ana for Voice of OC. You can contact him at

  • LFOldTimer

    Well, stupid is as stupid does.

    The Register reported that Santa Ana still owes $24 million plus interest on that jail which was built in 1997.

    Without that $340,000 in ICE revenue each and every month the dummies will now have to dig into their general reserves to pay off the building.

    Instead of applying common sense – the airheads on the council decided to listen to the activists and anger ICE to the point that they’ve cancelled the contract. It will be easy for ICE to find another partner. That a big time guaranteed deposit in some city’s coffers for a long, long time. Plus, there will be many more illegal foreigners taken into custody with Enforcer Trump in office. The more bodies the more money for some lucky city or county.

    And as pointed out – there are probably family members of the inmates living close by so they can visit their relatives. Now ICE can send them anywhere. Now the family members will have to relocate if they want to see their loved ones.

    Bottom line: Santa Ana will end up in another fiscal crisis on account of rubbing ICE’s nose in this jail issue. And when Trump pulls their Federal Funding they’ll really be up c*rap creek without a paddle. Then they’ll find somebody else to blame.

    I’ve never see such blatant stupidity from a group of politicians

    Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face!!!

    • Soy Yo

      E. X. A. C. T. L. Y. !!!

  • 0_0

    All illegal aliens from every country needs to be deported asap. We have laws, they need to be followed.

    • Karen Bayer

      That’s right !!