A San Bernardino County immigrant detention facility at risk of permanent closure will remain open until at least mid-June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Wednesday.
In a statement, ICE spokeswoman Jenny Burke said the extension “provides additional time for potential relief from ongoing litigation that prevents full use” of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center.
“The location and availability of detention space directly affects the agency’s ability to remove individuals to their home countries, enforce immigration law in the interior of the country, and detain those who are threats to public safety or national security,” Burke said.
The facility was originally slated to close a week before Christmas, but last month, ICE extended the contract until mid-February. Around 350 unionized workers at the facility urged the agency to find a way to keep it open, while advocates for detained immigrants celebrated the potential shuttering.
Adelanto, which is operated by the Florida-based private prison contractor the GEO Group, has a capacity of 1,940 but now holds few detainees. Its population dropped significantly in 2020 after an outbreak of COVID-19 led the ACLU Foundation of Southern California to sue and a federal judge to order the release of detainees and the pause of new intakes.
Three years later, that order remains in place.
A GEO Group spokesperson declined to comment.
ICE guarantees it will pay contractors for a minimum number of beds, regardless of whether they are filled. Both supporters and opponents of the facility have called it a waste of taxpayer money to keep Adelanto staffed and operational while overseeing just a handful of detainees.
One of California’s largest immigrant detention facilities, Adelanto has been investigated by government watchdogs over health and safety violations, including disciplinary segregation and detainee exposure to toxic chemicals.
If it closes, six other privately operated facilities would remain operational in the state.