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Company withdraws plan for ICE detention center in western Wisconsin

The city of New Richmond recommended against approving the plan.

A proposal to build a detention center for immigrants in the U.S. illegally across the border in western Wisconsin has been scrapped before any public hearings could be held.

Immigration Centers of America (ICA), which owns several immigrant detention center across the U.S., has decided to withdraw a rezoning application to build a new center in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

The withdrawal came after New Richmond shared a report compiled by city officers with ICA, in which the city recommended denying proposal as a detention center doesn't conform with New Richmond's 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

It was among 10 reasons given for recommending the denial of the application, with the city also noting there wasn't adequate water, sewerage and stormwater infrastructure at the proposed site, and also noted that a detention center would not be "an appropriate transitional use near residential uses."

There was a negative reaction from local residents on social media when New Richmond originally revealed the proposal from ICA, with many expressing concern about housing a detention center to hold undocumented immigrants in their hometown.

There was also concern that the center would have been operated on behalf of ICE, which has been involved in the controversy at the U.S.-Mexico border, where thousands of immigrant children have been separated from their parents under the current administration.

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In a comment sent to BMTN, ICA COO Duane Ragsdale said the company is "disappointed" New Richmond recommended denying the application.

It claims that as a result of this, "immigrants being detained in Wisconsin and Minnesota will be forced to remain incarcerated in local and county jails while awaiting their time in immigration court, rather than in a facility more suitable for those being held on civil charges."

Ragsdale said the center would've created 219 full-time jobs paying up to $65,000-a-year and provided a $38.6 million benefit to the local economy, including $2.4 million tax revenue.

There are not currently any ICE detention centers in Minnesota though there are two in Wisconsin, in Kenosha and Juneau. ICE lists three county jails – in Sherburne, Carver and Freeborn counties – as its holding facilities in Minnesota.

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