SAN DIEGO — The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Wednesday, April 28, calling for the closure of 39 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, including the Otay Mesa Detention Center in San Diego and the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico. ACLU supporters will also be messaging Secretary Mayorkas to call for the closure of these detention facilities, according to an ACLU press release.
“Time and time again, the immigration detention facilities in San Diego and Imperial counties have proven to be unsafe, abusive, and unable to uphold the due process rights of the people trapped inside,” said Monika Langarica in the press release, the immigrants’ rights staff attorney for the ACLU Foundation of San Diego and Imperial Counties (ACLUF-SDIC). “It is past time to bring an end to the shameful practice of detaining immigrants in our region and across the Country and embrace a policy of humane and fair processing.”
The ACLU is calling on the Biden administration in the press release to close detention facilities that meet the following criteria: facilities that opened without adequate justification — in violation of ICE’s own process for obtaining new detention space — as found by the Government Accountability Office (GOA); facilities in remote locations with compromised access to legal counsel and external medical care; and facilities with documented patterns of inhumane treatment of people who are, or have been, detained or detaining people in inhumane conditions.
Otay Mesa Detention Center (OMDC) was selected, the press release said, because of documented patterns of abuse, mistreatment, and misconduct at the privately-run facility. The Imperial Regional Detention Facility was selected in part because of its remoteness to critical legal resources and support systems which effectively restricts access to fundamental due process protections.
“The Biden administration was elected with a mandate to fix our broken immigration system, and immigrant detention is an early test of its resolve,” said Naureen Shah, in the press release, senior advocacy and policy counsel at the ACLU. “Closing detention sites should be a no-brainer. Millions of taxpayer dollars are being wasted to maintain thousands of empty beds and keep people seeking asylum and immigrants in inhumane and life-threatening conditions. The number of detained people is currently lower than it’s been in two decades. President Biden has a unique moment to shrink the infrastructure that’s been used to abuse and traumatize immigrants for decades. It’s time to end our Nation’s newest system of mass incarceration of black and brown people.”
According to the press release, last week, the ACLUF-SDIC published CoreCivic’s Decades of Abuse: Otay Mesa Detention Center, an issue brief detailing OMDC’s history of abuse. The issue brief amplifies the experiences of people who have shared their stories of abuse within the CoreCivic-run facility. The brief is intended to serve as a resource for currently and formerly detained persons, advocates, and lawmakers who are calling for an end to oppressive, unnecessary, and inhumane systems of incarceration.