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California Democrats Call For Closure Of 3 ICE Detention Centers in State

An image of a detainee being escorted by a guard down a flight of stairs inside an immigration detention center. Cells flank the staircase on both sides.
A guard escorts an immigrant detainee at the Adelanto Detention Facility.
(Chris Carlson
/
Getty Images North America)
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California congressional Democrats asked the Biden Administration Thursday to close three immigration detention centers in the state, including the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in San Bernardino County, citing “dire conditions” and “an excessive waste of federal funds.”

Representatives Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) and Lou Correa (CA-46) wrote a letter signed by two dozen members to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to terminate contracts for Adelanto as well as Yuba County Jail and Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.

Last year, LAist reported a series of stories about conditions at Adelanto, including a pepper-spray incident which left detainees injured and struggling to breathe, an incident mentioned in the letter.

The letter also pointed to a federal court ruling that found during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 118 women were sharing three showers, while sleeping inches apart at Adelanto in conditions “inconsistent with contemporary standards of human decency.”

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Immigrants detained at Adelanto also reported coughing up blood and having bloody noses from the frequent use of a disinfectant, which the EPA found was being misused.

By October 2020, Adelanto was home to the largest active outbreak among immigration detention centers in the U.S. Among 750 people, 147 immigrant detainees were monitored or in isolation with COVID-19, all of them having tested positive.

“For years, under multiple administrations, these facilities have been operating in a substandard manner, resulting in repeated violations of the ICE standards,” the congressional Democrats wrote.

The GEO Group, a private company that runs prisons and publicly operated real estate, bought the Adelanto detention facility in 2010.

The group has come under scrutiny at its other facilities, including another detention center in Kern County.

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Elly Yu reports on how who you are and where you live affects what kind of justice you get.