How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

California's latest private immigrant detention center

Photo by Jason Nahrung/Flickr (Creative Commons)

As California grapples with how to reduce its prison population, there is one group of inmates that keeps expanding: federal immigration detainees, a growing number of then held by private jailers.

The California high desert prison town of Adelanto, already home to federal and state facilities, will now be home to up to 1,300 immigrant detainees in a former city-owned prison that was sold last year to the GEO Group. The Florida-based company is one the nation's biggest private prison firms and holds a large number of contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The Adelanto story is typical of how private immigration detention contracts are made. Last year, the cash-strapped city sold a city-owned prison, once used to house up to 650 low-level state offenders, to the Florida-based GEO Group. About 100 jail employees were laid off.