The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties is calling for the Biden Administration to close the Imperial Regional Detention Facility and 38 others. | PHOTO ILLUSTRATION
SAN DIEGO — The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, April 28 calling for the closure of 39 Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facilities, including the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and the Imperial Regional Detention Facility east of Calexico, according to an ACLU-San Diego & Imperial Counties press release.
ACLU supporters will also be messaging Mayorkas to call for the closure of these detention facilities, the release states.
“Time and time again, the immigration detention facilities in San Diego and Imperial counties have proven to be unsafe, abusive and unable to uphold the due process rights of the people trapped inside,” stated Monika Langarica, the immigrants’ rights staff attorney for the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties. “It is past time to bring an end to the shameful practice of detaining immigrants in our region and across the country and embrace a policy of humane and fair processing.”
The ACLU is calling on the Biden administration to close detention facilities that meet the following criteria: facilities that opened without adequate justification — in violation of ICE’s own process for obtaining new detention space — as found by the Government Accountability Office; facilities in remote locations with compromised access to legal counsel and external medical care; and facilities with documented patterns of inhumane treatment of people who are/have been detained or detaining people in inhumane conditions, according to the press release.
Otay Mesa Detention Center was selected because of documented patterns of abuse, mistreatment and misconduct at the privately run facility, the release states. The Imperial Regional Detention Facility was selected in part because of its remoteness to critical legal resources and support systems which effectively restricts access to fundamental due process protections.
“The Biden administration was elected with a mandate to fix our broken immigration system, and immigrant detention is an early test of its resolve,” said Naureen Shah, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the ACLU. “Closing detention sites should be a no-brainer. Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted to maintain thousands of empty beds and keep people seeking asylum and immigrants in inhumane and life-threatening conditions. The number of detained people is currently lower than it’s been in two decades: President Biden has a unique moment to shrink the infrastructure that’s been used to abuse and traumatize immigrants for decades. It’s time to end our nation’s newest system of mass incarceration of Black and Brown people.”
Last week, the ACLUF-SDIC published CoreCivic’s Decades of Abuse: Otay Mesa Detention Center, an issue brief detailing the Otay facility’s history of abuse. The issue brief amplifies the experiences of people who have shared their stories of abuse within the CoreCivic-run facility. The brief is intended to serve as a resource for currently and formerly detained persons, advocates, and lawmakers who are calling for an end to oppressive, unnecessary, and inhumane systems of incarceration.
Through COVID-19-related litigation, advocacy, and the shutdown of asylum under the Trump administration, detention rates dropped lower than we’ve seen in two decades. There are roughly 14,000 people detained on an average day — this is just a quarter of the people who were detained at its peak in 2019. ICE is currently wasting over $1 million a day on guaranteed minimum bed space that isn’t being used. The ACLU’s list is intended as a starting point for the administration to begin ending the mass criminalization and default incarceration of undocumented immigrants, according to the release.
Below is the full list of facilities the ACLU is calling to shut down:
Etowah County Jail, Alabama
Eloy Detention Center, Arizona
La Palma Correctional Center, Arizona
Adelanto Detention Center, California
Desert View Annex, California
Imperial Regional Detention Facility, California
Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility, California
Otay Mesa Detention Center, California
Yuba County Jail, California
Baker’s County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
Glades County Detention Center, Florida
Krome North Service Processing Center, Florida
Irwin County Detention Center, Georgia
Stewart County Detention Center, Georgia
Allen Parish Public Safety Complex, Louisiana
Catahoula Correctional Center, Louisiana
Jackson Parish Correctional Center, Louisiana
LaSalle ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
Richwood Correctional Center, Louisiana
River Correctional Center, Louisiana
South Louisiana Correctional Center, Louisiana
Winn Correctional Center, Louisiana
Bristol County House of Corrections, Massachusetts
Calhoun County Correctional Facility, Michigan
Adams County Detention Facility, Mississippi
The Shelburne County Jail, Minnesota
Otero County Processing Center, New Mexico
Okmulgee County Jail, Oklahoma
Clinton County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania