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Otay Detention Center

The Otay Detention Center is an immigration detention facility located on the outskirts of San Diego, California, and just miles from the US-Mexico border.  The facility is a part of the East Mesa Detention Complex, which serves to house all types of inmates.  The Otay Detention Center, by contrast, houses only persons detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the United States Marshals Service.  The Otay Detention Center is frequently referred to as the San Diego Correctional Facility, the San Diego Detention Center, and the Otay Mesa Contract Detention Facility.

Contact Information

Contacting the Facility


Otay Detention Center
446 Alta Road, Suite 5400
San Diego, California 92143



Contacting A Detainee

To speak to a detainee by phone, you must leave a message for the person to  you back.  (The Otay Detention Center will not connect you directly to an inmate.)  When you call to leave a message, have ready the person’s full name, nationality, and alien number, so that facility staff can convey the message to the right person.  It is recommended that you leave a date and time for the inmate to call you back, so that you can make sure you are available at that time.  Because inmates are not allowed free phone calls to family and friends, you must

come in and add money on machine into lobby.  western union money order… no money order.

To deposit money in the person’s account, you can bring cash and deposit it in a machine in the front lobby, or you can transfer money by Western Union.  To send money by Western Union, make payment to “Corrections Corporation of America.”  The code city is “TrustCCA” and the state code is “TN.”  For the recipient, write the inmate’s name and commissary number.  To find out the commissary number, call the facility’s front desk, or ask an attorney to make the inquiry.  When the money is deposited in the inmate’s account, he or she can use the money to make phone calls.

To visit the a person at the San Diego Correctional Facility, go on Saturdays and Sundays between 8am and 4pm.

To send mail to the person, use the following address:

Inmate Name, Alien Number, and Booking Number
Otay Detention Center
PO Box 439049
San Diego, California 92143

Contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Bird's-eye-view of Otay Mesa Detention Center

Bird's-eye-view of Otay Mesa Detention Center

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has an office located inside the Otay Mesa Detention Center.  To contact a deportation officer, call (619)710-8300, and ask for the officer assigned to the person’s case.  For ICE to connect you to the right officer, you will need to tell them the last three digits of the person’s alien number.  The top supervisor at the facility is Assistant Field Office Director Kenneth C. Smith.  He, in turn, is supervised by the Field Office Director of the San Diego Field Office, Robin F. Baker, who works at 880 Front Street, Suite 2232, San Diego, California 92101 and can be reached at (619)557-6343.

Getting Released

Immigration Bonds

Inmates at the detention center in San Diego are sometimes eligible for release on bond.  To find out if ICE is willing to release a person on an immigration bond, contact the ICE office at Otay Mesa at (619)710-8300.  If you cannot reach an ICE officer at the facility, try contacting the San Diego Field Office, at (619)557-6343.  If ICE is not willing to release a person on bond, or if the bond amount is very high, the detainee may still be able to seek a lower bond by requesting a bond hearing before an immigration judge.

Bond can be posted at any ICE ERO Field Office in the United States.  This makes it easy to post bond if a person’s friends or relatives live outside of San Diego.  However, inmates are released in the shortest amount of time when bond is posted in the same place as the detainee.  For inmates at the Otay Detention Center, it is advised that you post bond at the San Diego Field Office for the fastest release:

880 Front Street, Suite 2232
San Diego, California 92101


After posting bond, inmates released from the Otay Detention Facility can be dropped off at the ______________, located at:


The Removal Process

Detainees in San Diego are most of the time placed in removal proceedings, wherein Immigration and Customs Enforcement alleges that the detainee should be removed from the United States.  In most cases where the person has not been deported before, he or she has the opportunity to defend himself from the government’s charges.

Immigration Court

Detainees at the San Diego Detention Center are now heard by an immigration court located inside the facility, called the East Mesa Immigration Court.  To reach the East Mesa Immigration Court, call (619)661-3327.  Currently, the only immigration judge at East Mesa is Judge C. Zsa Zsa De Paolo.


From the time that someone is booked into the San Diego Detention Center, it can take up to 3 weeks for the person to see an immigration judge.  From the date of the first appearance at the East Mesa Immigration Court, it took an average of 11 days for a case to be completed in fiscal year 2011.

Facility Background

The Otay Mesa Detention Center, which houses approximately 650 male inmates, is operated by the Corrections Corporation of America.  In a year, the facility will house roughly 9,000 different ICE inmates.  The vast majority, 74%, are Mexican nationals.  The remainder are from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Iraq, and a host of other countries.

The facility came under fire in 2007 for allegedly denying detainees access to health care.  In particular, an El Salvadoran man, who had a lesion on his penis, was denied a biopsy by medical staff at the facility.  He was later diagnosed with penile cancer, from which he died in 2008.  The ACLU sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2007 on the basis that detainees at Otay were forced to wait for too long before receiving medical treatment.

Whereas an internal ICE audit found the facility deficient on 4 counts in 2006, a 2007 audit found the facility acceptable on all counts.

Nearby Facilities

If you are having difficulty locating someone at the Otay (San Diego) Detention Center, you may want to try contacting any the following immigration detention centers:


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