“We Don’t Feel OK Here” – Adelanto in the LA Times

Problems at the Adelanto Detention Facility, a focus of the IMB Immigration Issues Team, have hit the front page of the Los Angeles Times:  “‘We don’t feel OK here’: Detainee deaths, suicide attempts and hunger strikes plague California immigration facility.

Located in the high desert 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles, the Adelanto Detention Facility can house nearly 2,000 men and women. Officials say more than 73,000 detainees have passed through since it opened in 2011.


Among those held there are asylum seekers, people caught in immigration sweeps and those identified by authorities as potentially deportable after landing in jail. Some have lived in the U.S. for decades, others were sent to Adelanto soon after crossing the border.


The GEO Group, which operates dozens of private prisons and detention centers around the country, owns and operates the facility. GEO Group receives a fee of up to about $112 per day per detainee from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with the city of Adelanto serving as a go-between.


Detainees and advocates have long complained of medical neglect, poor treatment by guards, lack of response to complaints and other problems. Government inspectors have also noted significant deficiencies at the facility — often related to medical care.

A guard escorts an immigrant detainee from a segregated housing unit back into the general population at the Adelanto Detention Facility in 2013. (John Moore / Getty Images)

…Rivera Martinez pointed to his mouth, where he had a gap in his teeth, and his nose, which crooked to the left, to show Peñalosa damage he alleged was caused by guards.


Attorney Nicole Ramos told the judge she was struggling to communicate with Rivera Martinez because the facility had blocked her phone number. (ICE officials say they sometimes block phone numbers for security reasons.)


Peñalosa said he would take note of the complaints. But he also explained to Rivera Martinez that his court is charged with deciding immigration cases, not resolving problems within the facility.


Rivera Martinez came to the U.S. this spring in a caravan with dozens of asylum seekers from Central America.


He said he fled El Salvador after a gang killed his brother and kidnapped him, his wife and teenage daughter when they witnessed the slaying. After the family escaped, Rivera Martinez said, he learned that the gang had occupied his house.


“I can’t return home anymore,” he said.