SANTA MARIA, Calif. - About a dozen people turned out Wednesday night for a public outreach meeting hosted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. regarding their recently approved new holding facility project on Depot Street near McCoy Lane in Santa Maria.
ICE says the purpose of the meeting was to address and allay concerns from neighboring property owners to the project site and dispel rumor, myth and misinformation about what the new holding facility will be and will not be.
Its unclear why turnout for the meeting was so low given the thousands of people who flocked to the Santa Maria Fairpark last week for the City Planning Commission's controversial approval of the project.
Some in the community Central Coast News talked to said they never even knew about the Wednesday night meeting at the Minami Center in Santa Maria.
"I'm really appreciative to those 14 people who showed up last night, that you knew about it and you went to share what you feel", says Santa Maria resident Hilda Zacarias, "but there's another couple of thousand people who really would have appreciated being there, I'm one of them."
An ICE spokesperson says it reached out to neighboring homeowners and property owners, with the help of the city, and also had outreach meetings with farm worker representatives and local clergy.
Former Santa Maria City Councilwoman Zacarias says she's hoping ICE will hold more outreach meetings in the days to come to ease growing public concern about the holding facility.
"If you want to engage community please truly engage community so we all understand the impact on all of our community", Zacarias says, "because its not going to impact just those neighbors its going to impact everybody."
An ICE spokesperson tells Central Coast News the agency is prepared to host future public meetings about the new holding facility if there is sufficient demand from the community.