Skip to content

Emergency Response Network: 909-361-4588

Written by: Jaime Acosta Gonzalez, Adelanto Resident

$85 million: this is the annual revenue generated by GEO Group from its Adelanto ICE Processing Center. Let’s consider this alongside a more modest figure: $1. This is the amount GEO Group paid daily to civil detainees in exchange for their labor, violating state minimum wage laws. 

GEO Group, like any corporation seeking to maximize profit and shareholder value, blinds itself to the forms of indignity that may eventuate. The indignities visited upon detainees, however, cannot be reduced simply to unjust monetary compensation. The Adelanto facility has been at the center of seemingly endless controversies, from violating federal pesticide law to failing to provide adequate medical care. According to a 2017 report, the Adelanto ICE Processing Center was ranked third in the country in sexual assault complaints. That same year, three detainees died in a span of three months. During that time, GEO Group stock prices nearly doubled.

The Adelanto ICE Processing Center has a capacity of 1,940. It currently holds 5 detainees. Due to its contractual agreement, ICE compensates GEO Group for a minimum of 1,455 detainees, regardless of the actual number—an egregious waste of taxpayer money which only serves to boost GEO’s profits (remember that $85 million?). 

In addition to GEO’s immoral profiteering, Adelanto is currently facing many challenges, including serious concerns about water justice emanating from a local superfund site, increasing pollution from the growing logistics sector and an unemployment rate hovering around 20%.

Prisons are progress. Profit is sacred. Environmental degradation is the cost of doing business. This is the logic of the status quo. It is the logic of catastrophe.

We are living in a moment of instability that requires solutions that meet the scale of the problem. While it is often the case that profit and morality dictate that the pursuit of one comes at the expense of the other, the shutdown of the Adelanto ICE Processing Center represents a solution that is both morally and economically rational. Moving beyond the cruelty of the carceral economy toward alternative models of sustainable growth is our only option. 

Divesting from for profit immigration detention and enacting a just transition represents a historic opportunity to redress the harms not only against vulnerable immigrant populations, but can also open up opportunities for Adelanto’s predominantly Black and Latinx residents through the California budget initiative Healthy Economies Adapting to Last (HEAL). Contingent on the closure of a detention center, HEAL funds can be used to train and place workers in dignified high-wage careers while repurposing carceral infrastructure and restoring our sense of community. 

For far too long, GEO Group has exploited our land, used up our resources and abused our brothers and sisters while funneling its ill-gotten gains out of our community. Adelanto, instead of being complicit with GEO’s human rights violations, can choose to be an emblem of a more humane and verdant future—a world where we recognize that you cannot put a price on our humanity.