ACLU Calls on White House to Shutter 39 ICE Facilities, Including Otay Mesa

In this June 9, 2017, file photo, a vehicle drives into the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego, Calif.
Elliot Spagat/AP (File)

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.

Questions have been raised about the COVID-19 mitigation measures at the Otay Mesa Detention Facility. NBC 7's Tania Luviano reports.

The ACLU says there have been "documented patterns of abuse, mistreatment and misconduct'' at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.

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.''

ICE has blocked phone calls for detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center. NBC 7's Emiliana Molina has more.

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:

  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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