Activists Criticize Expansion of Immigrant Detention Center

The immigrant detention facility in Adelanto will add 650 new beds and a unit for housing women

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    TK
    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    The Adelanto Detention Facility will be expanded to have nearly 2,000 beds for male and female immigrant detainees, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say.

    As the immigration crisis in Southern California continues to cause nationwide controversy, the planned expansion of an immigration detention facility in the High Desert has activists crying for reform.

    The state of the art facility will boast nearly 2,000 beds for men and women. It is the largest immigration detention facility in Southern California, officials said.

    But immigration activists have launched a campaign opposing the expansion, saying the Adelanto Detention Facility treats detainees poorly. They urge the government to focus on immigration reform and resources for immigrants.

    "To see that we’re still building centers like Adelanto, to just comply with this quota, is really sad," said Victoria Mena, coordinator of the Defund Detention Campaign. "We don't need more immigrant detention to fulfill the quota, what we need is to make smart, common sense immigration reform happen."

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    Virginia Kice, a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said its expanding the facility to meet the growing demand.

    "There’s a huge number of people coming into our custody in Los Angeles," Kice said. "These are convicted criminal aliens subjected to mandatory detention."

    Under a quota established by Congress, ICE is required to hold about 34,000 immigrants in custody each day.

    Mena, who coordinates Friends of Adelanto Detainees, a program that works with detainees, said the facility is too far away and lacks food and neglectfuls health care issues.

    Mena pointed to a death in custody there in 2012. Review of the death conducted by ICE’s Office of Detention Oversight concluded ICE officials had not provided adequate health care to the detainee.

    Kice defended the facility, it's "state of the art." It's regularly inspected and in compliance with the agency’s highest standards, she said.

    Kice said the facility is one of the most affordable for ICE, which had a budget of just over $2 billion in fiscal year 2012 for custody operations.