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Advocates for immigrants urge Biden administration to keep Lake County prison closed

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North Lake Correctional Facility is a private, for-profit prison, closing due to Biden administration policies.

A coalition of social justice and other advocacy groups are urging the Biden administration in a letter to keep the North Lake Correctional Facility closed for good.

The rural Lake County facility is slated to close at the end of this month as part of the administration's move away from for-profit prisons.

But U.S. Representatives John Moolenar and Bill Huizenga want it reopened as an immigration detention center.

JR Martin is with the coalition, "No Detention Centers In Michigan." He said for-profit prisons in other states have also managed to stay open despite the new policy, by detaining immigrant populations for ICE, in place of federal prisoners for the Bureau of Prisons.

"There's no justification for expanding that system into Baldwin and Lake County and continuing the suffering and injustice that goes on in all ICE detention centers," he said.

Representatives Moolenar and Huizenga say closing North Lake will mean 300 jobs lost in a low-income, rural area that desperately needs them. And they say there is an immigration crisis in the U.S. that justifies opening a detention center in Michigan.

GEO group, the private company that operated North Lake Correctional, referred questions to the federal Bureau of Prisons.

In response to a question about whether any proposal had been received to convert North Lake Correctional to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility, ICE said it "responds to Congressional correspondence through official channels and by appropriate officials at the agency."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.