The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is responding today to Valley Public Radio’s reporting about the agency’s presence and practices at a facility in downtown Fresno.
In that report, we described an unmarked, under-the-radar Fresno facility that processes and detains individuals coming into ICE custody. We also reported that ICE had not responded to multiple opportunities to comment on the story before it was published.
In response, an ICE representative has now confirmed the office on L Street is run by a division of ICE known as Enforcement and Removal Operations. He also argued that it’s not a detention center, though he confirmed the facility does have a secure space for interviewing and holding individuals for up to 12 hours.
He says eight other facilities serve this same role within a coverage area that extends from Bakersfield through Northern California and includes some Pacific Islands.
The full statement, issued by ICE spokesperson James Schwab, is as follows:
The ICE office in Fresno serves as a workplace for assigned ERO employees. Like all ERO offices, the location must have secure space for interviewing and briefly holding individuals who are coming into ICE custody. There are eight other locations that also serve the same role as this office throughout the San Francisco Field Office. The field office extends from the Bakersfield area north to the Oregon border. The total number (9) also includes three offices in Hawaii, Saipan, and Guam. This sites is not, nor will it become, a detention center. Anyone arrested by ICE who is going to remain in the agency’s custody for more than 12 hours will be transferred to a detention facility specifically equipped for that purpose.
Civil liberties groups have raised concerns about secretive, unlisted ICE offices saying they can delay detainees access to legal representation and due process.