1635362319-data.jpg-2 (copy)

In this file photo,  men work in the laundry room at the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility.

The federal government is gearing up to drastically expand immigrant detention capacity in Kern County, despite a state law meant to ban such action.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has signed two new contracts with GEO Group Inc., allowing the private prison company to increase the number of beds used to detain immigrants in Kern County from 400 to 1,800.

Two facilities in McFarland that had previously been used as private prisons will become annexes of the Mesa Verde ICE Processing Center in Bakersfield, GEO said in a news release.

Mesa Verde, which has 400 beds, is currently the only location in the county that detains people for immigration violations. The Central Valley Modified Community Correctional Facility and Desert View Modified Community Correctional Facility, which each hold 700 beds, will apparently be added to the list.

The expansion comes at a time when the state government is attempting to close all private prisons in California. In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 32, a bill that bans new contracts for for-profit prisons. The bill comes into effect Jan. 1, and advocates had hoped it would lead to the closure of all private facilities used to detain immigrants.

A spokeswoman for Newsom told the Associated Press on Tuesday that ICE was trying to circumvent the state’s authority with the new contracts.

ICE, however, claims the new contracts are compliant with federal contract and acquisition regulations. Because the contracts were awarded last Friday, the agency says AB 32 does not apply.

“State laws aimed at obstructing federal law enforcement are inappropriate and harmful,” the agency said in a statement. “Policy makers who strive to make it more difficult to remove dangerous criminal aliens and aim to stop the cooperation of local officials and business partners harm the very communities whose welfare they have sworn to protect.”

In total, ICE awarded four contracts to facilities in Kern County, Adelanto, San Diego and Calexico. Although the contracts call for up to 7,188 beds, ICE said it would initially only hold 4,000 detainees under the contracts.

A spokeswoman said ICE could use the extra beds later if needed.

GEO received contracts for the two new Kern County facilities, along with two facilities in Adelanto. The Associated Press reported that CoreCivic Inc. also received contracts for facilities in San Diego and Calexico. The contracts total $6.8 billion, according to AP.

GEO said in a news release its contracts had terms of 15 years, with two five-year options included. The company expects the contracts to generate $200 million in annual revenue and support more than 1,200 full-time jobs.

“We’re pleased to have been able to build on our long-standing partnership with ICE to help the agency meet its need for processing center beds in California, which comply with the federal government’s performance-based national detention standards,” George C. Zoley, GEO’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in the release.

Central Valley MCCF had previously been set to close because of new state policy on private prisons. The new announcement allows for the McFarland detention center to remain open for the foreseeable future, although it is unknown how many of the 1,200 jobs mentioned by GEO will be located in Kern County.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

You can reach Sam Morgen at 661-395-7415. You may also follow him on Twitter @smorgenTBC.

Recommended for you

(26) comments

Masked 2020

here is another one for GenePoolChlorinator.........."Overcorrection

A Jail Increased Extreme Isolation to Stop Suicides. More People Killed Themselves.

The Kern County, CA Sheriff’s Office places hundreds of people into suicide watch each year. They’re held for days or weeks in rooms without mattresses and sometimes toilets. The state can’t stop it.

by Jason Pohl, The Sacramento Bee, and Ryan Gabrielson, ProPublica Nov. 5, 8:30 a.m. EST"

She Dee

I have to gather that California has given up shuttling incarcerated people for profit & this is the new money maker of the future!


Horrifying......everyone should leave... I'll stay and fight the good fight.


This may be my version of “left field thinking”, but it seems Newsom is not at war with oil. He’s at war with conservatism and Kern county is his intended target. He’s using oils to hurt or destroy our county. I can’t believe anything else regarding this issue. What kind of leader does this? A leftist leader. Newsom suffers from a mental disorder just as every liberal suffers. To liberals, it’s their will to power and control others at ANY cost and if it costs lives or freedom then so be it.


@Bodysnatcher You need to take or change your meds. The conspiratorial thinking is at it again. Also, you might want to stop listening to rightwing hate speech that floods talk radio. It's obviously had a corrosive effect on those two dull neurons in your thick skull. Btw, Mike Savage would be proud you paraphrased him without acknowledgment.


The hours I work doesn’t allow me to listen to talk radio, so your theory of me listening to right wing radio falls flat. It must suck to be you.

Stating the obvious

This was the best state in the union and a worldwide economic powerhouse. Then the democrats ruined it all. Just ruined it....


This is encouraging...!

Gary Crabtree

We need something to replace the oil industry that Newsom is taking away. After all, we are the "Peoples Republic of California".

Comment deleted.

JR:. You want human trafficking to stop? Do you? Then there is a simple way to do it. One strike law. One strike and you're gone. That includes any business that employ illegal. It also means any illegal act done while in United States by an illegal. Hmmm, Guess that mean just the being here without work visa.

No more " poor are we" slogan.

Agricultural & service industry need a one time warning with fine followed by license removal. Firm.

No more children shuffled by parents. No more deaths at border. No more illegal drugs coming over to be distributed . Obtain a work visa and then arrive.

Both sides have used each other. Businesses and non residents. And the tax payer pays for it all. It costs us : ICE, hospitals, "free" legal help, jail, police, ...the list goes on. It's great for those employed in the business of the shuffle, but not good for the rest of us and to our dignity.


Sign every "Recall Newsom" petition you can . . . !


What Illegal Alien problem? This is California, everybody is welcome, whether or not you have any job skills, or education level above 3rd grade, doesn't matter if you are on Welfare and the State pays for your "free" medical, food and education. Welcome!

Masked 2020

"Trump's first year has been the private prison industry's best

The Trump administration has been a godsend for the private prison industry" Salon



Gene Pool Chlorinator

More copy and paste from Yuckies...

And quoting Salon- yeah, that's a well-known play-it-down-the-middle media source...



They should have used Taft too!


Abolish ICE.

Inconvenient Truth

I’ll bet you lock yours when you leave your house, don’t you?


You are part of the problem I guess.


Abolish Mexico


Abolish liberals.


@Bodysnatcher When you say abolish, do you really mean exterminate? I believe you do. So, basically, you are calling for the deaths of not just members in a political party, but a little over half of the US. Some people might call that genocide or attempted genocide. It's rightwing fanatical f**** like yourself, crippled by fear and rage, that give true conservatives a bad name.

Gene Pool Chlorinator


That has to be the most intemperate response to a post I've seen in a while.

Merry Christmas!


They used the word abolish inappropriately, I’ll give you that. BS does tend to go a little to far, but GPC is right, you were a little out of control and over the top on suggesting he wants to kill people. Plus, a little over half the USA is liberal? I think you got the wrong country on that one. UK maybe? According to the most recent Gallup stats conservative/moderates were around 70% and liberals were around 26%.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.