Food by VICE

Immigration Detainees in California Were Given Rancid Meat While in Custody

Department of Homeland Security inspections have revealed that two Orange County facilities served rotten cold cuts to those detained for their immigration status.

by Alex Swerdloff
Mar 9 2017, 10:18pm

Photo via Flickr user 888bailbond

The OC—California's wealthy Orange County—isn't just the birthplace of 'real housewives,' Disneyland, and dubious Festivus knockoffs like Chrismukkah.  

It's also the place where hundreds of immigrant detainees were being served lunch meat that smelled and looked so vile, they felt the need to rinse it off before attempting to eat it.

A report issued by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General—based on unannounced inspections and interviews last October—revealed that immigrants at two Orange County facilities were forced to eat foul, slimy cold cuts that may or may not have beyond their expiration dates. 

READ MORE: US Federal Prisons Will No Longer Serve Pork to Their Inmates

The facilities were also found to have moldy showers and inoperable phones, conditions that violate standards set by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. What's more, high-risk detainees were not properly restricted, while some low-risk ones were. Meanwhile, several detainees were kept in solitary cells for up to 30 days, with no access to visitors, recreation, or religious services.

The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency claimed on Wednesday that these problems have been "promptly remedied"—and that a new lunch meat vendor has been put in place.

The issues were found at two facilities run by the Orange County Sheriff's Department: the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange and the James A. Musick facility in Irvine. It will come, perhaps, as no surprise that the Theo Lacy facility also houses inmates—although the inmates are held separately from the immigration detainees. Both inmates and detainees, however, were served the same food. 

READ MORE: Bernie Madoff is Now the King of Prison Hot Chocolate

Among the unsafe food practices found by investigators were meat marked "keep frozen" stored in a refrigerator; meat stored without covering; and meat kept without labels indicating contents or expiration dates. All these practices are contrary to federal standards.

Lt. Lane Lagaret, a spokesman for the department, told the Los Angeles Times that all is good now: "The Sheriff's Department remains committed to the health and safety of all immigration detainees." 

Two additional inspections are scheduled for 2017.

orange county
immigration laws
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement
lunch meat
cold cuts
Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General