City of McFarland votes to keep detention facility in San Diego open

September 11, 2021 /

On Aug. 18, the McFarland City Council unanimously voted to keep the Western Region Detention Facility in San Diego from closing.

As a result of this vote, many community members are angry with this decision because it is said the Western Region Detention Facility in San Diego detains immigrants who enter illegally. That is why they do not want the prison to remain open.

This brings up the issue in McFarland of private prisons and immigration detention. The city of McFarland receives $500,000 annually for agreeing to help keep/expand the private prision. Now, the Western Region Detention Facility would remain open past Sept. 30.

In the past, the city of McFarland has been attacked for having an agreement with GEO, which owns the facility in San Diego.

Last year, the city’s Planning Commission initially denied a permit application from GEO that would allow the company to convert the two state prisons in the city into immigrant detention facilities; however, the council overturned the denial, despite hundreds of community members protesting the decision, allowing the prisons to transition into detention facilities.

It seems as though the city of McFarland has gone under fire again for voting to help keep another private prison open. Many people do not like this because private prisons profit from incarcerating people. A lot of talk surrounds that undocumented immigrants are the ones losing because they are the ones being detained at these private prisons in order to keep making money.

In January of this year, President Joe Biden signed off on an executive order that doesn’t allow the Department of Justice to renew any contracts with private prisons.

“This is a first step to stop corporations from profiting off of incarceration,” Biden said.

McFarland held an intergovernmental agreement to help keep the Mesa Verde prison in Bakersfield open, which once again brings up the issue of private prisons and immigration detention. This agreement was cancelled in 2018, but ICE later made a contract with the GEO to keep it open.

According to the Bakersfield Californian, any agreement with McFarland would ultimately have to be approved by the White House, but the GEO must secure the agreement with McFarland first before going to the White House. This gives some people hope that they won’t be able to keep private prisons open.