On Tuesday night, the McFarland Planning Commission voted not to allow the GEO Group to re-purpose a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in the city into a processing facility for ice detainees.
After it was announced last year that two correctional facilities in McFarland would close those with detention jobs in the city feared they would lose their jobs. However, in January the privately-owned prison received a new contract that would turn the detention center into an ICE processing facility. This led to a divide between residents who saw the new facility as a threat to undocumented residents or those that saw the facility as the only hope for detention jobs in the city.
The GEO Group, which also owns the Mesa Verde ICE processing center in Bakersfield, was hopeful the contract would pass. But their efforts failed Tuesday night after the planning commission voted 2-2, meaning the motion failed. However, they issued a statement on Wednesday, vowing to bring the decision before the McFarland City Council.
We’re disappointed the Planning Commission vote ended in a tie and therefore was not able to make a positive recommendation to the City Council. We look forward to presenting to the City Council on the important benefits of keeping the Central Valley and Golden State facilities open. GEO is proud to be a long standing member of the McFarland community, and we are hopeful to be able to continue to contribute to the City’s growth by keeping over 300 high paying jobs in the area.
On Wednesday, McFarland Mayor Manuel Cantu announced his resignation, saying ""it's time for other leadership to emerge."