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Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 9:24 pm | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

New Building to House ICE Operations Under Construction in Santa Maria

Century Street facility begins to take shape, with completion expected next spring

Construction is well under way on the new building to house Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations in Santa Maria.

Walls have been raised for the building on Century Street, which runs parallel to nearby West Betteravia Road and West McCoy Lane.

“Barring any unforeseen delays, they anticipate ICE will move into the new office sometime this spring,” ICE spokeswoman Lori Haley said.

The facility will house ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations that since 1996 have been based in temporary office space on the grounds of the Lompoc Federal Correctional Complex. The existing facility has become outdated, Haley said.

Approximately 12 employees now based at the federal prison complex will work at the new site in Lompoc.

ICE officials said the space would be used for administrative purposes and for working with area prisons and jails to pick up undocumented inmates set for release to determine their deportation status.

The federal agency’s representatives have repeatedly said the facility wouldn’t be a detention center and would have two or three rooms to temporarily hold 12 to 15 people. 

“Anyone arrested by ICE who is going to remain in the agency’s custody for more than 12 hours will be transferred to a detention center specifically equipped for that purpose,” Haley said.

The development sparked protests from immigrant and farming communities who expressed fears of random round ups of farmworkers.

Hundreds of opponents attended Santa Maria City Council meetings to protest the facility they feared would be used to randomly round up farmworkers and immigrants for deportation.

At the end of a marathon meeting in late March, the City Council ultimately upheld a Planning Commission decision to allow the project to proceed.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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