McFarland residents, immigrant rights groups organize to stop GEO Group from expanding immigration detention

For Immediate Release: September 4, 2020

McFarland residents, immigrant rights groups organize to stop GEO Group from expanding immigration detention 

Private corporation has long record of silencing community demands;
Advocates disappointed by recent court decision

MCFARLAND, CALIFORNIA -- An unfortunate court decision this week has created an opening for McFarland city and the notorious prison company The GEO group to expand immigration detention in Kern County, despite passionate opposition from hundreds of local residents. Community leaders and immigrant rights organizations are continuing to organize, directing calls to the McFarland City Council throughout the weekend. Community leaders and legal experts are available for interviews. 

At issue is a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which immigrant rights groups are denouncing. The court granted GEO’s motion to suspend a preliminary injunction, issued last month by a district court, which had blocked GEO from expanding immigration detention by a startling 350 percent in Kern County.  The preliminary injunction was initially requested by Freedom for Immigrants and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) on behalf of local residents.

With the injunction blocked, two 700-bed annexes for the Mesa Verde ICE Processing in Bakersfield may soon begin to detain immigrants amid a global pandemic

The expansion is an attempt to undercut California’s SB 29, the Dignity not Detention Act of 2017, as well as an attempt to circumvent the demands of McFarland residents. In February, hundreds of farmworkers and community members organized in opposition to a private ICE prison in their town. While they ultimately won a vote at the city’s planning commission, GEO Group worked with the city of McFarland to push through the expansion anyway.

 This expansion is the result of a set of controversial contracts rammed through in the days before California's AB 32 went into effect this January; advocates blasted that move as an "illicit scheme."


The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) is a national nonprofit that works with immigrants, community organizations, legal professionals, and policy makers to build a democratic society that values diversity and the rights of all people. Through community education programs, legal training & technical assistance, and policy development & advocacy, the ILRC’s mission is to protect and defend the fundamental rights of immigrant families and