Taxpayers still on hook for COVID-shuttered ICE facility amid objections by blue state lawmaker

Federal officials are again extending an evaluation of a mostly shuttered California detention center that can house thousands of illegal immigrants, with one lawmaker demanding the facility re-open amid continued costs.

“Although the Administration ended the COVID-19 national emergency over a year ago, the Adelanto ICE Facility continues to be prohibited from processing new detainees, Rep Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., told Fox News Digital. “In this extension, ICE and DOJ must work to bring this facility fully online so we can detain and deport the influx of illegal immigrants that are overwhelming our law enforcement and community support services.”

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. 

ICE EXTENDS EVALUATION OF CALIFORNIA DETENTION FACILITY LEFT LARGELY EMPTY SINCE 2020

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.

The move suggested that, instead of closing the facility, ICE is trying to get it back open. But as it stands, the facility remains closed, even as other facilities both locally and across the country have re-opened and the U.S. has largely moved on from COVID. 

ICE DETENTION CENTER HOUSES HANDFUL OF INMATES DESPITE HAVING THOUSANDS OF BEDS: LAWMAKER 

ICE extended the task order for another 60 days in January, and recently announced another extension that will extend the order until September. The task orders are implemented with GEO Group, which runs the facility and recently revealed that its contract generates $85 million in revenue per year. The cost was first reported by The New York Post. 

“The ability for the agency to remove individuals to their home countries, hold those in custody who require detention and are a public safety threat is directly dependent on location and availability of detention space,” ICE spokesperson Jenny Burke said last week announcing the evaluation’s extension. “ICE continues to modernize the immigration system as resources allow to realize cost efficiencies across the operational landscape.”

The ongoing stalemate comes as San Diego’s Border Patrol sector has been one of the hardest hit in terms of recent border encounters. While numbers overall have gone down, Fox reported this week of masses of people crossing into California, including those from Turkey and China. 

ICE LAUNCHES 60-DAY EVALUATION OF CALIFORNIA DETENTION FACILITY AMID GOP DEMANDS TO FULLY REOPEN 

Democrats in the Senate moved for a vote on a controversial but bipartisan border package on Thursday — but senators chose not to advance the bill in a 43-50 vote. 

The Biden administration has moved away from the use of private detention facilities for illegal immigrants and closed multiple facilities, but has also sought more beds from Congress. Republicans, who want to see more bed space, have noted that many beds remain unfilled. 

Fox News’ Bill Melugin and Julia Johnson contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates on the ongoing border crisis from the Fox News Digital immigration hub.

You might also like