Taxpayers still stuck at COVID-closed ICE facility amid objections from blue state lawmaker

Federal officials are again extending a review of a largely closed California detention center that could house thousands of illegal immigrants, with one lawmaker demanding the facility be reopened under continued charges.

“Although the administration ended the COVID-19 national emergency more than a year ago, the Adelanto ICE Facility remains prohibited from processing new detainees, Rep. Jay Obernolte, R-Calif., told Fox News Digital. “In this expansion, ICE and DOJ must work to bring this facility fully online so we can detain and deport the influx of illegal immigrants that is overwhelming our law enforcement and community support services.

The facility in Adelanto, California, can house nearly 2,000 inmates but was blocked by a September 2020 court order in response to a lawsuit from immigrant activists calling for fewer inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ICE extends review of California detention facility that has been largely vacant since 2020

Rep. Jay Obernolte, R-California, attends a House Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Act and other legislation at the Longworth Building on Tuesday, December 7, 2021. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Despite the COVID-19 emergency ending last year, the facility has yet to reopen and only a handful of inmates live there. Fox News Digital reported in November that the facility was expected to close in December, but ICE subsequently launched a 60-day task order to evaluate the impact of ongoing litigation, maintenance costs and operational requirements.

The move suggested that instead of closing the facility, ICE is trying to get it reopened. But as it stands, the facility remains closed even as other facilities locally and across the country have reopened and the U.S. has largely moved away from COVID.

ICE DETENTION CENTER HOUSES HANDFUL PRISONERS DESPITE THOUSANDS OF BEDS: LAWMAKER

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A guard escorts an immigrant prisoner from his segregation cell back to the general population of the Adelanto Detention Facility on November 15, 2013 in Adelanto, California. ((Photo by John Moore/Getty Images))

ICE extended the task order in January for another 60 days and recently announced another extension that extends the order through September. The task orders will be carried out at GEO Group, which manages the facility and recently revealed that the contract generates $85 million in revenue per year. The costs were first reported by The New York Post.

“The agency's ability to remove individuals to their home countries, take into custody those in need of detention and pose a threat to public safety is directly dependent on the location and availability of detention space,” said ICE spokesperson Jenny Burke last week when she announced the extension of the review. . “ICE continues to modernize the immigration system as resources enable cost efficiencies across the operational landscape.”

The ongoing standoff comes as San Diego's Border Patrol sector has been one of the hardest hit in terms of recent border conflicts. While numbers are down overall, Fox reported this week that crowds of people were entering California, including people from Turkey and China.

ICE LAUNCHES 60-DAY EVALUATION OF CALIFORNIA DETENTION FACILITY AGAINST GOP DEMANDS FOR FULLY REOPENING

Senate Democrats on Thursday introduced a motion for a vote on a controversial but bipartisan border package, but senators opted not to advance the bill on a 43-50 vote.

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The Biden administration has moved away from using private detention centers for illegal immigrants and closed several facilities, but has also requested more beds from Congress. Republicans, who want to see more bed space, have noted that many beds remain unfilled.

Bill Melugin and Julia Johnson of Fox News contributed to this report.

Get the latest updates on the ongoing border crisis via the Fox News Digital Immigration Hub.

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