An Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Southern California is operating at just 0.3% capacity due to an “outdated” COVID-19 court order — and the federal government is doing nothing to ramp up operations, The Post has learned.
The center in Adelanto, about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, has the capacity to hold 1,940 migrants but is currently housing just six, an ICE spokesperson confirmed Thursday.
In 2020, a judge blocked the facility from accepting more migrants after a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security demanded an intake reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The court order was intended to allow the detainees to “maintain a social distance of six feet from each other at all times and at all places, including while sleeping, eating, showering, and going about other daily activities.”
The facility is “fully funded” by “taxpayer resources,” but continues to only hold a handful of migrants even after the national coronavirus emergency was lifted by President Biden, Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.) wrote in a Oct. 3 letter to ICE.
Immigrant detainees pray during a prayer group in a general population block at the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013.Getty Images
According to Obernolte, whose district includes the facility, nothing has been done since his letter to rectify the issue.
“While ICE claims it doesn’t have the space in facilities to follow the rule of law and properly process illegal immigrants, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center in my district is 99% unused with over 1,900 empty beds because of an outdated, COVID-related injunction by a district judge,” the rep said in a statement to The Post.
“The Administration declared the COVID-19 emergency over on May 11th of this year. The federal government’s reliance on ‘catch and release’ has forced states, counties, and cities throughout the country to declare a state of emergency due to the financial burden that has been placed on our local communities. It’s time for ICE and the DOJ to rectify this situation and get the Adelanto ICE Processing Center back into regular use,” Obernolte added.
Imprisoned immigrants are seen at the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Adelanto Detention Facility near the border of the “green zone,” an area designated by the city for the development of industrial scale marijuana cultivation, on September 6, 2016 in Adelanto, California. AFP via Getty Images
A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from his ‘segregation cell’ back into the general population at the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013 in Adelanto, California.Getty Images
The call to step up operations at the under-utilized facility comes as cities across the country are struggling to keep up with the number of migrants coming in. In July, migrants were pictured sleeping on sidewalks outside a makeshift shelter that had hit capacity in New York City.
Mayor Eric Adams and four of his big-city colleagues have requested $5 billion from the federal government to handle the migrant influx, but have yet to receive any such commitment from the White House.
As a presidential candidate in 2020, Biden vowed to end for-profit detention centers. His efforts were stalled in part by the record-breaking number of migrants crossing the southern border during his administration, peaking with more than 2.4 million encounters in fiscal year 2023, according to US Customs and Border Protection data.
The Adelanto facility — which is operated by a private company — was one of the ICE centers Biden administration officials recommended downsizing or shutting down in 2022 in order to potentially save $235 million, according to a leaked memo obtained by Reuters.
“Due to ongoing litigation, we are unable to comment further,” an ICE spokesperson told The Post.