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Governor Whitmer cancels Ionia immigrant detention center deal

prison bars

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has canceled the pending sale of a former correctional facility in Ionia to a private prison company, Immigration Centers of America, for use as an immigrant detention center.  

She says she could not get an assurance from Immigration and Customs Enforcement that the facility would not house parents who were separated from their kids.

The facility would have housed up to 600 undocumented immigrants. ICA was the only bidder on the former Deerfield Correctional Facility.

Governmor Whitmer's office issued the following statement about her decision to cancel the deal:

A decision by the Michigan Land Bank to proceed with this project was made last October under Gov. 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. 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. “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. Therefore, the Governor has decided that the sale of state property in Deerfield to ICA will not move forward. As the Governor has said before, it's time for President Trump and Congress to work together on a bipartisan immigration reform plan that keeps communities safe, protects American jobs, and keeps families together.

The property sale had been contingent on a three-party development agreement between the state land bank, ICA, and the city of Ionia. ICA said its proposed facility would create 363 jobs and have a regional economic impact of $34.5 million. 

ICA currently operates an immigrant detention center in Virginia.

Catherine Shaffer joined Michigan Radio in 2014. She works in the newsroom and specializes in stories related to the life sciences, health, and technology. Catherine earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Michigan State University and a Master’s from University of Michigan. Prior to Michigan Radio, Catherine has worked as a freelance writer, mainly in focusing on biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, since 2001. She is also an award-winning fiction writer. When not at work, Catherine enjoys being in the outdoors and practicing yoga.
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