Immigration Detention Centers to Close or Reduce Capacity in 4 States

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to reduce its use of three facilities and to shut down a detention center in Alabama over concerns regarding conditions.

ICE announced it will be reducing the number of beds at detention centers in North Carolina and Louisiana, partly due to a reduced number of detainees, Reuters reported. The agency also will not extend the guaranteed minimum beds provision in its agreement regarding a center in Glades County, Florida, with the agency citing "persistent and ongoing concerns related to the provision of detainee medical care," according to an ICE press release.

"These actions should be seen as part of a larger and ongoing review to ensure our detention facilities are not only safe and secure but represent an appropriate use of government funds," said an internal email written by ICE acting Director Tae Johnson, according to the The Washington Post.

The move comes just weeks after House Democrats sent a letter to the Biden administration pushing for ICE to suspend detention expansions and conduct a review of all its facilities. Since President Joe Biden took office, there has been more than a 55 percent increase in the number of detainees at ICE facilities.

ICE indicates that it currently has more than 130 operational detention centers for immigrant detainees. Nearly 22,000 immigrants are in custody at these facilities, Reuters added.

Last week, an ICE detention center in New Mexico reported issues with sanitation, staffing and medical treatment. At Glades County Detention Center in Florida, there have been persistent and ongoing concerns related to the facility's medical care, which ICE said is partially why is has reduced using the facility in recent years.

A group of lawmakers sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security in February stating that Glades needed to be shut down. They said there have been complaints of racist abuse, overuse of toxic chemicals and a carbon monoxide leak that left four detainees hospitalized, Reuters reported. However, the facility's most recent inspection on February 10 received an "acceptable" rating, according to ICE documents.

Additionally, ICE will stop using the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, "as soon as possible" citing a "long history of serious deficiencies identified during facility inspections." The Etowah County Detention Center was last inspected in July 2021, and the facility was deemed "acceptable."

The Alamance County Detention Facility in North Carolina is transitioning from long-term detention to only be used for short custody periods under 72 hours, the agency stated. The change is due to its limited operational use and concerns about conditions, including lack of outdoor recreation. Alamance's most recent inspection was in December 2021, and it was also given a rating of "acceptable."

At the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana, ICE will reduce the guaranteed minimum number of beds. The change is partly to accommodate for recent staffing constraints, ICE stated in its press release. The most recent inspection at the facility took place in September 2021, when it was given a "meets standard" rating.

"ICE will continue to review other immigration detention centers and monitor the quality of treatment of detained individuals, the conditions of detention, and other factors relevant to the continued operation of each facility," the agency said.

According to the ICE statistics, the last record of a detention facility receiving a "superior" inspection was in 2009 at the McClellan County Jail in Waco, Texas. In 2008, the Tom Green County Jail in San Angelo, Texas, and Guaynabo MDC in San Juan, Puerto Rico, also received a "superior" inspection.

Newsweek has reached out to ICE for comment.

Update 3/25/2022, 1:27 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to provide additional details.

ICE Detention Centers
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is planning to reduce the number of beds contracted at three facilities and to shut down a detention center in Alabama over concerns regarding conditions. Above, 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. John Moore/Getty Images