Ionia County: Proposed ICE facility in early stages

Ionia County

IONIA, Mich. (WOOD) — A detention facility for undocumented immigrants could be on its way to Ionia County.

This comes after county commissioner Jack Shattuck says he received an email from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement last week inquiring about a 106-acre lot just off M-66 near the airport.

The center would hold up to 600 men accused of violating immigration laws. It could also bring more than 200 jobs.

The county says this is just in the beginning stages. They say to their knowledge, there are several areas across the state that ICE is considering for the facility.

The county commission chairperson David Hodges said ICE is asking the commissioners to present any issues, questions or considerations they may have for this project at this point.

Both Hodges and Shattuck told News 8 over the phone that the potential jobs this facility could bring would be great for the county.

The ACLU of Michigan is pushing back against the facility, saying it’s not needed.

“There has been this massive ramp in immigration detention and it’s absolutely unnecessary. People can fight their immigration cases from home while they’re working, while they’re contributing to the community, while they’re raising their kids so that those kids don’t get traumatized by having a parent locked behind bars,” said Miriam Aukerman with the ACLU of Michigan.

Aukerman added she believes ICE is strategically choosing rural communities like Ionia to avoid transparency of what happens at its facilities.

Last year, ICE inquired about the former state prison in Ionia. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blocked the sale of that building, saying separating families goes against Michigan values.

The commission administrator says if COVID-19 does not prevent them from holding their May 12 meeting, the commissioners will likely discuss this. They say nothing has been decided at this point.

News 8 asked for a copy of the original inquiry from ICE. The county has not provided it.

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