U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the closure of the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas, the largest migrant detention facility in the country. This decision comes as part of a broader strategy to save costs and reallocate resources across the national detention network.

The center, which has been described as the most expensive in the nation, has played a central role in housing migrants but will cease operations soon.

The Dilley facility, operated by the private prison company CoreCivic, has averaged 1,784 detainees per day, contributing to CoreCivic's $156.6 million revenue in 2023. However, ICE Deputy Director Patrick Lechleitner emphasized the need for fiscal responsibility.

"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," Lechleitner stated.

The decision to close the Dilley center will allow ICE to increase detention bed capacity by about 1,600 beds in other facilities, better supporting the agency's operational needs. This restructuring is part of a broader effort to ensure that ICE operates within its budget while responding to the dynamic immigration landscape.

The closure of the Dilley center has drawn reactions from various stakeholders. The Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit organization, noted that the closure would lead to more adults being detained in other facilities. Andrea Meza, the director of immigration and advocacy campaigns for the organization, highlighted the ongoing need for oversight.

"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," Meza said.

The decision to close the Dilley center follows President Joe Biden's recent executive order, which restricts asylum applications to those who schedule appointments with the CBP One app or express fear of returning to their home country upon being encountered by Border Patrol agents. This policy aims to streamline the asylum process and reduce the burden on detention facilities.

The South Texas Family Residential Center has been under scrutiny for years, with concerns about the treatment of detainees and the conditions within the facility. Earlier this month, Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff launched an investigation into the conditions at an ICE center in El Paso, Texas, following numerous allegations of inadequate medical attention and mistreatment from staff. This investigation comes amid reports of increasing deaths in ICE custody, with ten people having died so far in the current fiscal year, a significant increase from previous years.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University reported that the Dilley center has held the largest number of ICE detainees in Fiscal Year 2024. As of June 16, there were 38,525 individuals held in detention facilities nationwide, with Texas housing the most significant number of detainees at 13,564.