Many of the approximately 250 people at Monday evening's protest outside Orange County Correctional said they are trying to build on a movement condemning ICE's detention policies.
Media and government reports have revealed overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at overwhelmed facilities near the US-Mexico border in Texas.
Just before the event, the office of Orange County Sheriff Carl Dubois released a statement to assure the public no ICE detainees are being abused here. -- Orange County has an agreement to house ICE detainees, while surrounding counties have elected not to house them.
"The OCCF is one of the most accredited jails in the United States and the Sheriff’s Office takes exception to any suggestion that any detainee is mistreated or neglected in any way," officials said in the statement. "The policies, procedures and conditions of the housing [at OCCF] have been repeatedly reviewed by independent accreditors with no violations over a period of years of operations."
To protestors like Nedda Schoenfeld, the jail's clean record does not matter. She looks at Orange County's agreement to house ICE inmates as an endorsement of ICE policies.
"Whether it's being done here in better conditions, or in other places with worse conditions, it doesn't matter," she said, as she finished another sign. "It's the same thing."
Orange County Legislator Kevindaryan Lujan, one of the event's featured speakers, said the county sends a hostile message to immigrants simply by working with ICE.
"When we look around this country and see people who are drinking out of toilets, that’s not acceptable," Lujan said. "That might not be the situation here, but it's a moral principle that exists in this country."
According to its emailed statement criticizing the protest organizers' language, officials with the Orange County Sheriff's Office appear not to just be defending procedures at this facility.
Their statement went on to say, "The use of words, torture and terrorism -- for example -- to describe legal actions taken by the government of the United States is disingenuous at best."