Stop ICE Transfers: Promoting Health, Unifying Families, Healing Communities

August 2020

We partnered with the Asian Prisoner Support Committee and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus to create a research brief, toolkit, and resources to address the health impacts of direct transfers from California prisons and jails to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


This research focuses on the particular ways direct transfers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — a system in which prisons and jails collaborate with ICE to transfer people directly upon release to immigration detention centers — harm the mental and physical health of refugees, immigrants, and their families. We created a suite of resources that includes a research brief, an action toolkit, and health-related talking points for those demanding an end to ICE transfers.

All resources were informed by the existent public health literature, and interviews with directly impacted Southeast Asian people – a group often left out of dominant narratives around immigration and health. The research reveals how harm is compounded at every step of the criminal legal system, immigration system, and beyond. Pre-migration trauma, post-migration trauma, the trauma of incarceration and family separation, and the trauma of ICE transfers profoundly harm the health of people caught up in these systems.

Each resource highlights 6 immediate steps the California Governor and Legislature can take to stop the cycle of trauma and promote the health and wellness of our state’s diverse communities:

  1. Stop all ICE transfers from California prisons and jails.
  2. Stop the criminalization of immigrant and refugee communities by investing in the social determinants of health, including investments in community-based mental healthcare, stable housing, and living wages.
  3. Stop deportations by granting pardons and/or commutations to immigrants with convictions.
  4. Stop all state and local agencies within the criminal legal system from collaborating with ICE.
  5. Release people from prisons and jails without supervision conditions and with community-based reentry support, including access to housing, job training, and food.
  6. Stop the expansion of ICE facilities in the state of California.


To learn more about this research, contact Health Instead of Punishment researcher Dr. Christine Mitchell, project lead at