In a move that’s drawn stark criticism from immigration reform activists, a planned expansion of the Adelanto Detention Center, the largest immigration detention center in Southern California, was announced July 9. The Adelanto Detention Center is located in the desert, surrounded by barbed wire fences, and currently has the capacity to hold nearly 1,300 male detainees. The planned expansion calls for the addition of 650 beds and a wing for female detainees, bringing the capacity of the center to nearly 2,100.
Immigration reform advocates have begun to protest the planned expansion, claiming that the company that operates the Adelanto Detention Center has a record of neglect and a poor history of dealing with immigrants. Criticisms from these individuals also center on the fact that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is required by a federal quota to detain 34,000 undocumented immigrants a day nationally. Victoria Mena, a coordinator with the Defund Detention Campaign, expressed her frustration to Los Angeles NBC affiliate KNBC.
“To see that we’re still building centers like Adelanto, to just comply with this quota, is really sad,” Mena told the source. “We don’t need more immigrant detention to fulfill the quota, what we need is to make smart, common sense immigration reform happen.”
Perhaps most troubling, as Mena pointed out, is the 2012 death of a detainee who was being held at Adelanto. An internal investigation run by ICE’s Office of Detention Oversight determined that adequate health care had not been provided to the individual in question.
Nonetheless, a spokeswoman for ICE, Virginia Kice, insisted that the expansion is simply in response to the current influx of undocumented immigrants into the Southwest.
“There’s a huge number of people coming into our custody in Los Angeles,” Kice told KNBC.
Mena, along with the Defund Detention Campaign and other reform advocacy groups, has launched a campaign asking the federal government to refocus its attention on reform instead of detention.