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Santa Ana Council member and eventual Mayoral aspirant Jose Solorio — mocked by audience members as “Latino Trump” for his support for resurrecting the city’s contract with ICE for its immigration detainee detention facility in the Santa Ana jail — is bringing the measure back for a new vote after it failed at the previous Council meeting on a 3-3 vote (with Council member Vince Sarmiento, who opposes Solorio’s position, absent.) Solorio apparently either thinks that he can win over Michele Martinez, who has repeatedly suffered from his influence over her, or else thinks that he has a political winner. (A third possibility is that he’s just doing as the Santa Ana Police Officer’s Association is telling him to do, on the grounds that “the customer is always right.”)
The odds against re-establishment of the ICE contract seem fairly long, and it’s not clear why SAPOA has a shot at changing anyone’s mind this time, so the reason may be that he’s just really impressed with his own arguments and does not like the bad taste that getting ridden out of the meeting on a metaphorical rail left in his mouth. (For a critical analysis of the reasons that keeping open the Santa Ana facility, which has a special wing for transsexual detainees, is a really bad idea, check out Laura Kanter’s essay in the Voice of OC that came out the day before the vote.)
The usually pretty unflappable Solorio may be suffering from the belief that if he hadn’t been so surprised by the attacks on him — I mean, “Latino Trump”! How’d they know? — he would have gotten off some better zingers in his defense, so he wants another try. We here at OJB think that this is ill-advised and we therefore look forward to it.
But, we try to be good sports! So we’re going to explain to Don Solorio right here and now why his main argument to reinstate the ICE contract to run the facility out of the Santa Ana Jail is so bad. If this encourages him not to go ahead and make a Trump out of himself again, so much the better. If he goes ahead anyway — well, we’ve been known to take some satisfaction in a good “I told you so” while looking at someone we disdain lying in a ditch, so we’re OK either way.
Solorio proposed fully re-establishing the contract, saying Tuesday that allowing it to be canceled would mean families of detainees and their attorneys would have to drive hours away to an ICE jail in the Mojave Desert town of Adelanto.
“Ensuring that detainees are taken far away from family and legal counsel will not help them,” Solorio said, citing an email he said he received from an immigration attorney he didn’t name.
“Folks are gonna be transferred instead to places like Adelanto” in San Bernardino County, Solorio said, noting the Adelanto facility is run by a private company. “If you think the conditions in our facility or other public facilities are bad, they’re much worse in private jails.”
And, he said, bringing back the contract would generate $70 million to $80 million in revenue to the city over a decade-long period, revenue he said the city desperately needs. The contract could generate twice that amount if nearly all of the jail’s beds were filled with ICE detainees.
There’s no doubt that the second reason Solorio gives, in the last paragraph cited above, is true. Yes, Santa Ana will lose money without the ICE contract — money that it could certainly use. But that’s not really a good reason, as Solorio recognizes by placing it second, after the fake but sympathetic seeming reason. If you wanted to be really amoral about it, Santa Ana could probably come up with lots of lucrative creative uses for that wing of the jail. CIA Black Ops Detention Facility? Housing medical experiments? Hosting a “Most Dangerous Game” hunt of human prisoners? (I don’t know; I admit that this isn’t my specialty.) But “let’s keep people in misery here because the government is paying us well to do it” is probably just a little to on the nose for Solorio’s comfort.
So, he instead offers the three paragraphs above on detainees being moved to Adelanto — which he argues would be especially bad for the transgender detainees. There’s just one problem with the argument: without the Santa Ana jail facility, ICE is likely not to incarcerate the transgender detainees at all.
OJB has learned from a source in the LGBT community that ICE is jumping through all sorts of hoops to get the transsexual detainees OUT of detention altogether if the Santa Ana facility has closed — and that, in a substantial number of cases, it has already been successful. And, in fact, the only reason that more of the detainees have not been placed in the community to await their further proceedings is that one condition for doing so is that they have to be able to be placed in a stable housing situation. (That’s a problem with which the City of Santa Ana could presumably help, if its leaders’ hearts do indeed bleed for the detainees.)
In other words, the problem with the argument that ending the ICE contract means that detainees — at least the transgender ones — will be shipped to Adelanto and not get to see their lawyers is that:
(a) they will not be shipped to Adelanto
(b) they will still be able to see their lawyers
ICE has to set priorities just like the rest of us — and keeping people housed when they don’t need to be housed is not among their top ones. So, keeping the jail open the detainees means that they’re that much more likely to remain detainees, while closing the jail may be the exact way to best put an end to their misery.
That’s what Solorio’s up against today if he goes ahead with this motion: people who can back up the story that I am presenting here today. And whoever he has lined up to say “don’t send my loved one to Adelanto” aren’t going to have much of an argument to make if that’s not going to happen. But, again, we’re fine with however it turns out; we have no problem at all with Solorio being called “Latino Trump.”