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ICE to close the country's largest migrant center in Texas

ICE officers (Credit: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement / HO)

The largest detention center for migrants in the U.S. will shut down to save costs, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced.

The place in question is the South Texas Family Residential Center. Located in Dilley, Texas, ICE has described it as "the most expensive facility in the national detention network."

According to the Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the center has averaged 1,784 detainees per day. Overall, a little over 38,500 people are being held in detention facilities across the country. Most of them are in Texas, with 13,564 as of June 10.

The agency said it will be able to allocate funding to increase detention bed capacity in other places by about 1,600 beds.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement remains focused on meeting the constantly changing operational needs of the immigration enforcement mission in a fiscally responsible manner," ICE Deputy Director Patrick Lechleitner said in a statement.

"We continue to evaluate contracts to ensure we are financially responsible and can increase removal flights and detention bed space capacity to support the dynamic immigration landscape while operating within the budget provided by Congress."

Border Report quoted a nonprofit group called Government Accountability Project, which said the decision means that more adults will be detained in other ways.

Given both the expected increases in ICE's detention of adults under any future administration, and the extraordinary lack of agency and independent oversight of CBP operations, whistleblowers will be even more crucial to speak up about abuses they may encounter," said Andrea Meza, an official at the Government Accountability Project.

Other migrant detention centers have been under the spotlight recently. Earlier this month, Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff said he began an investigation regarding the conditions in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) center in El Paso, Texas, following a series of allegations about their state.

Ossoff sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Patrick J. Lechleitner, ICE's interim director, detailing the concerns that led him to begin the inquiry, according to a report by Noticias Telemundo.

Ossoff said that over 110 complaints have been filed about the center since the beginning of fiscal year 2023, which began in October of 2022. The complaints included inadequate medical attention and mistreatment from the staff, among other issues.

The investigation comes shortly after a report revealed that ten people have died under ICE custody so far this fiscal year, a figure that is much higher than previous years.

Concretely, since the beginning of the fiscal year, which starts on October, more than twice the people have died in these circumstances compared to 2023 (4) and more than thrice compared to 2022 (3).

The only fiscal year in the records when deaths exceeded 2024's figures was during the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2020, when the figure reached 21.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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