The American Civil Liberties Union called on the Biden Administration Wednesday to shut down 39 ICE detention facilities across the country, including the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego.
In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the ACLU called for the closure of the facilities it alleges were opened without adequate justification, opened in remote locations with compromised access to legal counsel and external medical care, or have documented patterns of inhumane treatment.
The ACLU says there have been "documented patterns of abuse, mistreatment and misconduct'' at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.
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In a report the ACLU released earlier this month, the organization alleges failures at the facility to properly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic led to an outbreak that included the first death of a person in ICE custody to the virus. The report also alleges persistently inadequate medical care for detainees, dangerous building conditions, and abuse and retaliation against detainees and employees.
"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,'' said Monika Langarica, 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 said that decreased ICE arrest rates and reduced detention levels stemming from the pandemic warrant a reduction in ICE's network of more than 200 facilities.
"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," Shah said. "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.''
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
- Pike County Correctional Facility, Pennsylvania
- York County Prison, Pennsylvania
- Bluebonnet Detention Facility, Texas
- El Valle Detention Center, Texas
- T. Don Hutto Residential Center, Texas
- IAH Secure Adult Detention Facility, Texas
- Montgomery ICE Processing Center, Texas
- Prairieland Detention Facility, Texas
- Farmville Detention Center, Virginia