- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

ADELANTO, Calif. (AP) - Southern California’s largest immigrant detention center is adding 650 more beds as part of an expansion that will help ease overflow in the Los Angeles area, federal officials said.

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 (https://lat.ms/1lR11ll).

The expansion underway at the immigration detention center in Adelanto, about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles, 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.

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 location is inaccessible 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.

Adelanto city officials favor the facility’s expansion and highlight its economic benefits to the town, which has an 18 percent unemployment rate and a $2.6 million budget deficit.

The city receives 75 cents per day for each bed occupied at the facility, city manager Jim Hart said.

The city has signed an agreement with federal immigration officials to house detainees and hired a Florida-based subcontractor to run the facility.

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