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ICE extends evaluation of California detention facility left largely empty since 2020


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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Wednesday announced it is extending the evaluation of a California detention center that can house thousands of illegal immigrants but has been kept nearly empty since it was shut down by a COVID-related court order in 2020.

The facility in Adelanto, California, can house nearly 2,000 inmates but was blocked by a September 2020 court order in response to a lawsuit from immigrant activists calling for fewer inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Despite the COVID-19 emergency expiring last year, the facility has yet to re-open and has only a handful of inmates living there. Fox News Digital reported in November that the facility was expected to close in December, but ICE then launched a 60-day task order to evaluate the effect of ongoing litigation, the costs of maintenance and the operational requirements.


But on Wednesday, ICE announced a new 120-day task order with the GEO Group, which runs the facility.

"The new task order will extend beyond the current 60-day task order issued on Dec. 19 – expiring Feb. 19 – and provides additional time for potential relief from ongoing litigation that prevents full use of the facility," spokesperson Jenny Burke said.

Burke said the location and availability of detention space impacts the agency's ability to deport individuals, enforce immigration law and detain those who are a public safety or national security threat.

"We appreciate the efforts of the vendor to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the agency continues to modernize the immigration system and realize cost efficiencies across the operational landscape while working with DHS leadership and Congress to secure supplemental funding for detention," she said.

The move suggests that the administration is considering legal action to have the limits on the facility lifted, something that some Republicans have called for previously. The fate of the facility, which had sparked concerns about the impact on jobs for more than 300 workers staffing it, comes amid an ongoing debate in Washington, D.C., about the detention of illegal immigrants.


While the Biden administration has moved away from the use of private detention facilities for illegal immigrants and closed multiple facilities, it recently requested more bed space as part of its supplemental funding request. Republicans are supportive of efforts to increase bed space and have said closing Adelanto would clash with claims the administration wants to increase detention.

"The Adelanto ICE Processing Center with its over 1,900 beds should be a vital contributor to ICE’s capacity to detain and process illegal immigrants," Rep. Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., told Fox News Digital. "Instead our country is experiencing the disastrous consequences of the administration’s continued reliance on the policy of catch and release, which has resulted in millions of immigrants flooding into our communities, causing states, counties, and cities to declare a state of emergency due to the financial burden that the federal government has forced upon them." 

"Making better use of facilities like the one in Adelanto is critical to solving this urgent problem," he said.

RJ Hauman, president of the National Immigration Center for Enforcement (NICE), which calls for more detention of illegal immigrants, said that with COVID in the "rearview" and facilities fully operational nearby, the Department of Justice should be seeking to have the injunction lifted.

"What is there to settle, and why even discuss a settlement? This is an enforcement show as we enter a critical election year," he said.

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