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ICE wants more immigration detention space in California

The main entrance to Otay Mesa Detention Center in south San Diego, Calif. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants to hold up to 5,600 more people in custody in California, according to a Request For Information document the agency posted last month.

The agency is responsible for immigration detention nationwide and often contracts that work out to private prison companies. Its recent request indicates potential plans for more contracted detention space in the areas of responsibility for all three of its California field offices — San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Request For Information document specifies that within the San Diego Field Office’s area of responsibility, the agency hopes to find facilities that can hold between 1,400 and 1,600 people within 75 to 180 miles of the Calexico City Library.

That field office is currently responsible for two detention facilities, one in Otay Mesa and one in Calexico, according to ICE’s website.

In the Los Angeles Field Office’s area, the document seeks potential facilities that could house between 2,800 and 3,000 detainees in a seven-county area from Orange and Riverside to San Luis Obispo and San Bernardino.

That field office has four detention centers, ICE’s website says.

In the San Francisco office’s region, the agency is looking to hold between 900 and 1,000 people near seven cities that range between Bakersfield and Redding. It already has four detention facilities in that region, including one in Bakersfield, according to the ICE website.

The facilities must be within a 30-minute drive of a general acute care hospital that includes an emergency room and mental health services, and within a 90-minute drive of an airport that has been approved for ICE Air flights.

The ideal facility would be exclusively for use by ICE and accommodate minimum, medium and maximum security adult detainees, both men and women, the Request For Information document says.

ICE may release an official Request for Proposal for such facilities in the near future, the document says.

A California law that went into effect at the beginning of 2018 prohibits local or state officials from creating, renewing or modifying contracts that aid the federal government in immigration detention. Some California localities have chosen to end their contracts with ICE.

ICE did not respond to a request for comment about its potential facility plans in the state.


© 2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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