ACLU Calls for Shutdown of Calexico ICE Detention Center, 38 Others

San Diego-Imperial County branch send letter to Biden Administration over documented abuses Otay Mesa facility

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.

Fiscal 2020 was ICE’s deadliest in 15 years, the ACLU release claims. The ACLU further states that “last year alone, there were reports of increased use of forcesolitary confinementpatterns of sexual abuseforced sterilization, and an utter failure to protect people from COVID-19. ICE’s extreme recklessness in handling the COVID-19 virus showed its blatant disregard for the health and wellbeing of detained people, as well as the extent to which it was willing to lie or obfuscate to avoid accountability. In the Otay Mesa Detention Center, the lackluster response to the pandemic resulted in the first death of a person in ICE custody due to COVID, though it would not be the last.”

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:

  1. Etowah County Jail, Alabama
  2. Eloy Detention Center, Arizona
  3. La Palma Correctional Center, Arizona
  4. Adelanto Detention Center, California
  5. Desert View Annex, California
  6. Imperial Regional Detention Facility, California
  7. Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility, California
  8. Otay Mesa Detention Center, California 
  9. Yuba County Jail, California 
  10. Baker’s County Sheriff’s Office, Florida
  11. Glades County Detention Center, Florida
  12. Krome North Service Processing Center, Florida
  13. Irwin County Detention Center, Georgia
  14. Stewart County Detention Center, Georgia
  15. Allen Parish Public Safety Complex, Louisiana
  16. Catahoula Correctional Center, Louisiana
  17. Jackson Parish Correctional Center, Louisiana
  18. LaSalle ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
  19. Pine Prairie ICE Processing Center, Louisiana
  20. Richwood Correctional Center, Louisiana
  21. River Correctional Center, Louisiana
  22. South Louisiana Correctional Center, Louisiana
  23. Winn Correctional Center, Louisiana
  24.  Bristol County House of Corrections, Massachusetts
  25. Calhoun County Correctional Facility, Michigan
  26. Adams County Detention Facility, Mississippi
  27. The Shelburne County Jail, Minnesota
  28. Otero County Processing Center, New Mexico
  29. Okmulgee County Jail, Oklahoma
  30.  Clinton County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
  31. Pike County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
  32. York County Prison, Pennsylvania
  33. Bluebonnet Detention Facility, Texas
  34. El Valle Detention Center, Texas
  35. T. Don Hutto Residential Center, Texas
  36. IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility, Texas
  37. Montgomery ICE Processing Center, Texas
  38. Prairieland Detention Facility, Texas
  39. Farmville Detention Center, Virginia
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