WASHINGTON- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is planning to close a troubled detention center in Alabama and will significantly scale back the number of beds contracted at three other facilities, citing concerns about conditions, according to an internal government document seen by Reuters.

According to the document, ICE will discontinue the use of the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama, saying it had "long been a facility of serious concern, due to the quantity, severity, diversity and persistence of deficiencies identified during facility inspections."

While the facility is not currently housing many detainees, the average length of stay remains high, the draft memo said, adding that the age of the jail and the lack of outdoor space were of particular concern.

The memo also said the agency would pause the use of Glades County Detention Center in Florida where there have been "persistent and ongoing concerns related to the provision of medical care at the facility."

Immigration advocates have for years raised complaints about a lack of adequate medical care and other problems at several ICE facilities and urged the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, to close down the centers. ICE is currently detaining nearly 22,000 immigrants at facilities across the country.

Under Biden, ICE arrests and deportations of immigrants living illegally in the United States have plummeted compared to the administration of his predecessor, Republican President Donald Trump. The agency has de-emphasized enforcement against immigrants with no criminal history to prioritize the arrest of those committing serious crimes.

An announcement about detention changes was expected on Friday, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the matter. ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The document said ICE would also be reducing the "guaranteed minimum" number of beds contracted at the Alamance County Detention Facility in North Carolina and the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana, citing in part a reduced number of detainees.

The measures are likely to spark criticism from Republicans who have said the Biden is encouraging illegal immigration, pointing to record numbers of migrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border, which are expected to rise further this year. Most of the migrants arrested at the border, however, have been immediately expelled under current policy aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in detention settings.

(Reporting by Ted Hesson and Mica Rosenberg; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke; Editing by Howard Goller)