Tacoma Nixes Expansion of Immigration Jail

TACOMA, Wash. (CN) – Tacoma this week approved an emergency ordinance blocking expansion of a federal immigration jail.

The rule limits where public correction facilities can be built and bans new or expanded private facilities, such as the Northwest Detention Center, where immigration detainees are jailed.

The center, run for profit by the GEO Group, holds up to 1,575 people.

According to the ordinance, approved Tuesday, “Recent changes in the national political climate have contributed to uncertainty as to the need for, and potential expansion of correctional facilities in communities such as Tacoma, and … the federal Department of Homeland Security is on record stating its desire to increase and secure additional detention facilities such as the privately owned and operated NDC.”

The ordinance will be in effect for the next six months, with public comments taken in April, after which a permanent plan will be presented to the Planning Commission.

“This is a conversation about land use; this is a conversation about land that is scarce,” Mayor Marilyn Strickland said at a study session before the City Council meeting.

“And I think given the fact that these are unpredictable times, I think it makes sense for us to have things in place that allow us to control our destiny and not have our destiny done to us.”

Daniel Ramirez Medina, a Mexican “Dreamer” authorized to live and work in the United States, is among those jailed at the Northwest Detention Center on immigration charges. A federal magistrate judge is considering a habeas petition his attorneys filed this week.

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