NewsCovering Kern County


McFarland City Council votes to convert prisons to ICE detention facilities

Posted at 3:38 PM, Apr 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 18:42:50-04

The McFarland City Council voted unanimously Thursday night to allow two prisons to be converted into ICE Detention centers.

The LA Times reported that after the vote Mayor Sally Gonzalez said the coronavirus has worsened the city's economy and thanked council members for making a tough decision.

"The approval marks the latest turn in a long-running fight over immigration policy between California and the federal government and effectively rebukes attempts by Gov. Gavin Newsom, state legislators and human-rights advocates to reduce the population of immigrants detained in the state," said the LA Times.

In February, the McFarland Planning Commission hosted a meeting Tuesday and discussed the possible re-purposing of an ICE detention facility in the city. The one of the commission members had to leave prior to the vote and four members voted 2-2, which means the motion failed.

The GEO Group, which also owns the Mesa Verde ICE processing center in Bakersfield, was hopeful the contract would pass. However, they vowed to bring the decision before the McFarland City Council.

GEO Group issued the following statement:

“We appreciate the vote by the McFarland City Council in favor of our Conditional Use Permit application. This important decision will allow the Central Valley and Golden State facilities to remain open, saving over 300 high paying jobs in the area along with millions of dollars in annual local tax revenue. GEO is proud to be a long-standing member of the McFarland community, and we are committed to supporting the local economy and helping the City grow.”