LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is putting an end to a proposed private federal immigration detention facility in Ionia.
The Immigration Centers for America was the sole bidder for the former Deerfield Correctional Facility, a state prison in Ionia that closed in 2009. It was reported in Oct. 2018 that the ICA proposed building a $35 million detention center.
ICA operates a similar detention facility in Virginia.
The Michigan Land Bank decided to proceed with the project in October under Gov. Rick Snyder's administration.
"When Gov. Whitmer took office in January, our team began a thoughtful and deliberative review process that included input from local elected officials, community leaders, civil rights groups, and ICA," a statement from Whitmer's office said.
"From that due diligence, it was determined that ICA was unable to agree to terms that guaranteed that this facility would not be used to detain adults who had been separated from their children or other family members and could not assure certain other conditions without ICE approval."
In West Michigan, ICE currently has a partnership with the Calhoun County Correctional Center in Battle Creek. In 2018, ICE detained over 158,000 people nationwide.
The Associated Press reported in 2016 that about 73 percent of detained immigrants were held in privately-owned facilities.
“The Governor believes that building more detention facilities won’t solve our immigration crisis, and she also believes that separating families doesn’t reflect our Michigan values," the statement from Whitmer's office said. "Therefore, the Governor has decided that the sale of state property in Deerfield to ICA will not move forward."
State Rep. Thomas Albert (R) represents Ionia, which is a part of the 86th district. Albert issued a statement in response to Whitmer's decision about the immigration detention facility.
"I would really like to know what the governor’s plan is to bring 250 well-paying jobs to Ionia and how she plans to clean up the long-vacant former prison property," the statement read. "The sale of this blighted property has been in the works for well over a year and the governor’s heavy-handed rejection came days before the sale was to be finalized."
Albert also said in the statement that the governor's decision to block the sale of the prison was about "appeasing her political base." He said that the Ionia community should have been involved in the decision.
13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to ICA for comment. They have not responded yet.
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