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HesperiaStar.com
  • Adelanto detention center to add beds for immigrant influx

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  • ADELANTO — Mayor Cari Thomas on Tuesday welcomed a recently-inked deal to add 640 beds to the city’s immigration detention center as part of an expansion that federal officials said will help ease overflow in the Los Angeles area.
    The city receives 75 cents per day for each bed occupied at the facility but calculates guaranteed revenue at 80 percent of that total, according to City Manager Jim Hart. The expansion will mean anywhere between $140,000 to $175,000 of annual income for Adelanto, which is in a $2.6 million budget deficit and flirting with bankruptcy.
    “It sure as heck doesn’t hurt,” Thomas said.
    Meanwhile, the Los Angeles area is seeing higher demand for beds at immigrant detention centers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Virginia Kice told The Los Angeles Times.
    The expansion underway at the immigration detention center will add a woman's housing unit to the facility that previously housed only men. The expansion will bring the facility's total capacity to about 2,000 detainees. Hart said that of the 640 new beds, about 120 are for females.
    The facility holds those in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody while they await return to their home country or the resolution of their immigration cases.
    Immigrant advocacy groups oppose the facility's expansion, citing detainees' reports of low quality food and poor health care. The High Desert is not accessible enough for visits by attorneys and families, advocacy groups say.
    As the country copes with the recent arrival of thousands of Central American children, immigration advocates say adding capacity to detention facilities should not be a priority.
    "Resources should go to help the children seeking asylum, not to grow private prisons," said Luis Nolasco, a member of the Justice For Immigrants Coalition.
    Thomas and Hart favor the facility's expansion and highlight its economic benefits to the city, which has a 12.6 percent unemployment rate. Hart said the city has already began to receive building and permit fees for the expansion — expected to be completed by next July — but won’t begin to collect its per-bed share until the project’s finished.
    The city signed an agreement with federal immigration officials to house detainees and hired Florida-based subcontractor, GEO Group, Inc. to run the facility.
    — The Associated Press and Daily Press staff writer Shea Johnson contributed to this report.
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