ICE Facility Causing Uproar in Latino Community

POSTED: 04:43 PM PST Jan 22, 2014 
ICE Controversy in SM
SANTA MARIA, Calif. -

Santa Maria's City Council meeting last night was jam packed with protestors over the possible relocation of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility to the city.

Pedro Reyes with the League of United Latin American Citizens says close to 2,000 community members showed up for last night's city council meeting for the discussion of relocating an ICE facility from Lompoc to a parcel of land near the intersection of McCoy Lane and Depot Street. Reyes says this strikes fear in the prominent immigrant population in Santa Maria. He believes a relocation to the city would have dire consequences.

"I don't think we've considered the long term effects of how much money, or how many billions of dollars will the city of Santa Maria be losing if we have this site," says Reyes.

Reyes believes the agriculture industry in Santa Maria would take a big hit.

"Wth this being out, a lot of people won't come to Santa Maria," says Reyes. "It's ironic because we depend on immigrant workers to pick our crops."

Mayor Alice Patino says she recognizes the fear among the undocumented community, but says ICE officials aren't interested in doing sweeps around the city.

"They're looking for criminals who are already out in the streets," says Patino. "In fact, one ICE agent said to one of our staff members we don't need to go our there looking for the average person who is working."

This moves on to the Planning Commission on February 5th. It'll be up to them to approve the developer's permit for the facility.