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LDN: Huizenga, Moolenaar seek to convert closing North Lake Correctional Facility into detention center

U.S. Representatives Bill Huizenga and John Moolenaar are appealing to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, asking that the North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin be converted into an ICE detention center following news that the prison would be closing this fall.

In a letter to Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, as well as U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, and Federal Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carvajal, Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and Moolenaar, R-Midland, who represent the 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts, respectively, state they are “extremely disappointed” to learn that the North Lake’s contract with the BOP would be terminated ahead of its original 2029 end date.

The early closure is the result of a January 2021 executive order from President Joe Biden instructing the Department of Justice to not renew contracts with for-profit prisons

North Lake Correctional Facility is owned by GEO Group and run through a public-private partnership with the BOP. The facility houses non-U.S. citizens accused of felonies, as well as detainees.

Based on the memo from facility administrator Michael Breckon to North Lake employees, the Daily News reported on June 10 that the facility would be closing Sept. 30 in accordance with Biden’s order.

At the time, Huizenga responded to a request for comment by deriding the Biden administration but did not address questions about what if anything his office was doing to lobby the DOJ or BOP to prevent the closure.

In the letter to Johnson, sent to the Daily News by Huizenga’s office on Wednesday, the representatives state that the impending closure of North Lake would cost some 300 Lake County jobs, adding that it is “truly incomprehensible” that Biden’s order still be in place and referring to border crossings and illegal immigration “running rampant.”

Huizenga and Moolenaar wrote that they “request a briefing from (Johnson) on what steps are needed to convert the North Lake Correctional Facility from a BOP prison to an ICE detention center,” adding that the facility could be “extremely useful to ICE.”

The representatives wrote that they hope for a “prompt response” to the request.

In February 2021, the Daily News filed a federal Freedom of Information Act request with the BOP seeking information about possible stipulations in the department’s contract with GEO Group that would allow for early termination. The request was received by the BOP shortly after being filed. The Daily News was told to expect a six-week wait on a response. As of June 15, 2022, the FOIA has not been fulfilled.

The Daily News previously reported that Biden’s order could impact North Lake’s contract, but received no on-the-record confirmation about how that might unfold despite multiple queries submitted to GEO Group and the BOP.

This article originally appeared online from the Ludington Daily News on June 15th 2022. 

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