In September 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began using a former state prison, the Golden State Annex (GSA), as an immigration detention center in McFarland, California. Despite the enactment of AB 32 into law in California, which prohibits the operation of private detention facilities in the state, the private prison company GEO Group, Inc. and ICE worked against the clock to establish the facility. Touted as an annex for the 400-bed Mesa Verde Processing Facility 26 miles away in Bakersfield, California, the GSA is able to detain up to 700 immigrants. The controversial establishment of this facility exemplifies ICE’s blatant disregard for both immigrant communities and public health as this expansion occurred during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ) collaborates with multiple legal service providers to support the community members held at the GSA. In partnership with Centro Legal de la Raza, information from 120 community members was obtained and analyzed to describe the impact to surrounding communities, key enforcement trends, ICE’s logistical deportation reach, and public health concerns. You can read the report below:
Golden State Annex-Impacted Communities and Enforcement Trends
The information obtained from September 2020 to the end of March 2021 indicates that cities and counties surrounding the facility are disproportionately impacted by the establishment of the Golden State Annex. The GSA’s central location allows ICE to target community members in the Central Valley and Central Coast, as well as reach community members in both Southern and Northern California. Nearly 25% of the community members identified formerly resided in the city and county of Los Angeles. Additionally, the Golden State Annex impacts residents in over 40% of all the counties in California, exemplifying the geographic impact made by this facility, and the potential for it to further expand. Moreover, the impact of this facility was felt in other cities outside of California as shown in the nap below.