California’s Adelanto ICE Processing Center, one of the biggest immigration detention centers in the U.S., housing over 2,000 immigrants, has announced plans to expand their facility despite reports of the negligent care of detainees.
The detention center has been on the government’s radar ever since a mental health expert visited the facility in 2017. Her visit confirmed previous reports that staff fail to obtain thorough mental health histories and prescribe incorrect treatment plans to patients.
Upon arriving at the Adelanto Detention Center, disregard for detainees was apparent. Immediately, the expert observed a man who displayed obvious signs of schizophrenia. When she asked by an officer about him, it was found that he regularly “floods his cell, bangs his head,” according to NPR.
The expert searched the man’s medical files for records from his recent stay at a psychiatric unit, where he was put in solitary confinement despite being mentally ill. However, the paperwork was nowhere to be found.
It was later discovered that the man is suffering from active auditory hallucinations. In fact, his condition is worsening after spending time in solitary confinement.
“I hate to be alone,” he told the expert.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, NPR gained access to a previously confidential report, detailing the detainee’s case and outlining the federal government’s findings on the facility. However, despite government warning, ICE has renewed and expanded its contract to keep the facility running.
Even though the report is from 2017, advocates claim that no corrections have been made in the facility.
The Adelanto processing center is operated by the infamous for-profit GEO Group, a Florida-based company specializing in privatized corrections, detention, and mental health treatment. The government is the GEO Group’s biggest client. Just last year, the GEO Group made $1 billion in federal contracts with the government.
In an attempt to control the influence of corrupt for-profit organizations, California enacted a new law that bans for-profit companies from running prisons and immigration detention facilities.
However, the GEO Group and Trump administration avoided the law by signing the 15 year Adelanto contract before California’s law took effect. California law will have no jurisdiction over the detention center until 2034.
Advocates and attorneys for immigrants claim that the new contract demonstrates how ICE fails to hold contractors accountable for issues that arise within detention facilities.
The report obtained by NPR from the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Liberties cites several instances of how contractors refuse to follow ICE protocol.
Examples include contractors using tear gas instead of approved pepper spray, failing to report sexual harassment or employee misconduct, inadequate medical care and abuse of solitary confinement. Not to mention, many sources within the report claim detainees are treated with verbal abuse and overall disrespect.
However, despite several warnings, inspectors from the Department of Homeland Security found that ICE and GEO are unwilling to fix the issues at hand.
Detention centers aren’t prisons and aren’t supposed to serve as a means for punishment. They are only meant to hold detainees while their immigration status is being decided.
However, with the Trump administration pushing harsh immigration policies and corrupt corporations like GEO dominating the field, it’s only a matter of time before our troubled system crashes.