As the U.S. immigration system strains with the highest number of apprehensions at the southwestern border in a decade, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is looking at opening new detention facilities in California.
ICE is considering using existing facilities or constructing new facilities in the Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco areas to house between 5,100 to 5,600 detainees, according to official documents posted on the Federal Business Opportunities website. The facilities would be used to house “criminal aliens and other immigrant violators,” the documents say.
The move comes as U.S. border patrol said it would consider flying migrant families from states along the border to other locations across the country.
ICE has faced significant opposition to opening new detention facilities in the past. In 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union and 13 other groups issued a letter imploring ICE to halt plans to open new facilities across the country.
Lorella Praeli, director of immigration policy and campaigns at the ACLU, called the move “deeply disturbing” in a statement. “The ICE detention system is already notorious for inhumane and abusive conditions as well as lack of transparency and accountability,” she said. This is yet another example of the Trump administration’s dangerous immigration policies.”
California has been at the forefront of efforts to limit ICE’s plans to build new facilities. In 2018, the state passed a law that blocks local governments from starting contracts with private companies that run prisons. Several California cities ended contracts with ICE over the last year, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, leading to the loss of 434 beds.
ICE stipulates that each facility must have access to hospitals, immigration court, fire stations and transportation hubs. It also states that an “ideal” facility would have minimum, medium and maximum security beds for adults, according to the documents.
By Tara Law for TIME
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