Guantanamo Bay prison has been open for more than 16 years, and it’s going to remain that way under the Trump administration, President Donald Trump said during his State of the Union address on Tuesday.
“Today, I am keeping another promise,” said Trump as he announced his decision to keep the prison, located in Cuba, open.
“I just signed an order directing [U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis] to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay,” Trump continued.
The detention center, often referred to as “Gitmo,” opened in January 2002 – under former President George W. Bush – as a place to detain and interrogate people with suspected links to terrorism in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 779 men have been imprisoned at the detention center since it opened. As of September 2017, 41 remain.
Trump has voiced his support for the continued operation of the military prison for years.
“Any American who fights w/ ISIS in Iraq or Syria should have their passport revoked,” Trump tweeted in September 2014. “If they try to come back in, send them to Gitmo.”
“Many of the released Guantanamo detainees are now fighting for ISIS and other enemy groups,” he added a month later. “We need proper leadership before it is too late!”
This year, Trump said he’d “love” to send the New York City truck attack suspect to Guantanamo.
“But statistically that process takes much longer than going through the Federal system,” he tweeted in November.
Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn contributed to this report.