Michigan Governor Blocks Sale of Closed Prison that Would House Detained Illegal Aliens
By David Jaroslav | March 7, 2019
Michigan’s new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, recently blocked the sale of a former state prison to a contractor who was going to use the property to hold illegal aliens for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Local residents and elected officials were taken by surprise and have largely disagreed with her last-minute decision.
Deerfield Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan, closed as a state prison in 2009. The city’s leading employers are two other state prisons, Ionia Correctional Facility and the Michigan Reformatory. Immigration Centers of America (ICA) placed a $35 million bid on the site. ICA is a private company that contracts with ICE to house illegal aliens who are being detained while their immigration cases are being processed through immigration court for possible deportation.
The sale had been negotiated over the course of 2018 and was approved by Whitmer’s Republican predecessor, Rick Snyder, last October. But on the campaign trail last year Whitmer embraced an open-borders agenda, and it appears she means to follow through on it regardless of the cost to Michiganders.
State Representative Thomas Albert (R), whose district includes Ionia, responded with outrage to Gov. Whitmer’s decision, saying, “Immigration Centers of America came in and said hey, we’ll invest tens of millions of dollars to fix it up. We’re going to bring at least 250 really good paying jobs to your community. And you know, Gov. Whitmer came in and just with a heavy hand just killed the deal. It’s actually pretty devastating to my community.”
Albert further added that, “[i]t’s obvious the governor’s rejection was about appeasing her political base and taking a swipe at President Trump ... Like it or not, people that come into this country illegally are going to be detained. Ionia has been a correctional community since the mid-1800s. They deserve to have been involved in this decision.”
Ionia’s Democratic mayor, Daniel Balice, agreed with Albert that Whitmer’s “decision will hurt the city's economy.” In addition to hundreds of new jobs, turning the site from state land over to private ownership would have significantly boosted the city’s property tax base.
It is possible that ICA will still look for private land nearby to set up its facility, which the state could not block. It is also possible ICA might sue the state for breach of contract. All because Governor Whitmer apparently thinks illegal aliens should come before both the safety and economic well-being of Michigan’s citizens and legal immigrants.