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Say it once, say it twice. We will not put up with ICE.

Immigrant and refugee communities face double punishment– incarceration and ICE detention. A new state bill could help change that.

Californians rally in Sacramento on June 21, 2022 to urge Governor Gavin Newsom to pass the VISION Act (AB 937-Carrillo). Photo: Joyce Xi

.But instead of your loved ones waiting for you outside with open arms, federal immigration agents are there to pick you up and detain and arrest you. You are not going home.waiting for you to come home. You received multiple degrees and certifications while away. Not only were you able to process and work through your rehabilitation, but you also learned how to both love and forgive yourself. Freedom is just outside those cell doors.

But instead of your loved ones waiting for you outside with open arms, federal immigration agents are there to pick you up and detain and arrest you. You are not going home.

This is the reality that thousands of refugee and immigrant community members face when released from local jails and state prisons on a day they thought would be their homecoming. Currently, local jails and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) voluntarily funnel refugee and immigrant community members— who have already been deemed eligible for release— to immigrant detention centers, also referred to as an “ICE transfer.” Transferring a person from one jail cell to another is an unjust process that continues to re-traumatize and re-incarcerate community members.

For the last year, organizations, policy advocates, and some elected officials have been pushing for the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 937, otherwise known as the Voiding Inequality and Seeking Inclusion for Our Immigrant Neighbors (VISION) Act. The VISION Act would protect refugees and immigrants from ICE transfers and ensure they are treated equally by prohibiting agencies and courts from using immigration status as a factor to determine eligibility for rehabilitative programs, such as those centered on diversion and mental health.

The relationship between local jails, CDCR, and ICE has become a game of Monopoly for them— they get rich while others stay in jail. According to a report by Centro Legal de la Raza’s “Golden State Annex: Impacted Communities and Immigration Enforcement Trends,” 80% of incarcerated immigrants in some California ICE detention centers were unjustly placed there because of inhumane ICE transfers from jails and CDCR. ICE Out of California, a statewide coalition leading advocacy around the VISION Act, reported that between 2018 and 2019, nearly 4,000 people were transferred from local jails to ICE alone. In that one year, the local jail transfers cost an estimated $7 million; this doesn’t include the costs of CDCR transfers.

Passing the VISION Act would ensure that our community will no longer face this harmful double punishment. The VISION Act further extends protections for formerly incarcerated refugees and immigrants in the community and can bring them straight home upon their release.

Now imagine this, you are back in your childhood home with your family. You smell your favorite food cooking in the kitchen. You hear kids laughing in the yard. You are safe, and you are loved. A homecoming is celebrated.

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