On Monday, the Duval County Commissioners voted to begin contract negotiations with Serco, an Australian for-profit contractor, in order to submit to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) a proposal for a family detention facility in San Diego. Monday’s hearing did not follow the proper hearing disclosure procedures. Duval County Judge Ricardo Carrillo said the hearing did not abide by proper procedures because time did not permit as the proposal is due tomorrow (Friday).
I feel that if there is time to put forth a proposal and hold a vote there is certainly time to hold a hearing. I think the Duval County Commissioners need to hear what the community has to say about the possibility of converting La Hacienda Nursing Home into a secure facility that would detain women and children. I believe that the Duval County Commissioners would hear similar things to what the Jim Wells and Dimmit County commissioners heard: that our communities do not want to build facilities that incarcerate vulnerable women, children and babies. I have publically stated that family detention is against the tenets of Catholic Social teaching.
But I feel that the Duval County Commissioners’ actions on Monday, which in effect bypassed the San Diego people, were contrary to another Catholic Social Teaching and community value and that is subsidiarity. Subsidiarity holds that human affairs are best handled at the most local possible level, and thereby providing solutions closest to the affected persons. The facility will actually be in Jim Wells county and the local people in Jim Wells county rejected the facility through strong public opposition and a vote of the County Commissioners. Now, Duval county is acting against the will of the people of Jim Wells in their own county. As a faith leader, I believe strongly that local communities and local people often hold the keys to local solutions and that we must let community voices lead us in discussions on what we want our communities to look like and what values we want them to reflect. Very few community voices were heard from on Monday. For this reason, I strongly urge the Duval County Commissioners to allow for a public hearing before moving forward with the proposal from Serco and ICE to bring family detention to San Diego.
Family detention is a divisive topic in our country, in our state and in our community. The San Diego community should be allowed to voice their opinions in a fair and transparent manner.