CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — An agreement has been reached between Immigration Customs Enforcement, Clearfield county, and the GEO Group to re-open the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center to operate as a federal immigration detention center. The agreement to reopen the privately-owned prison is for five years.
The individuals that will be held in the facility will fall under ICE’s enforcement priorities guidelines, according to Brian McShane, the acting field office director at ICE Philadelphia. Those priorities are focused on national security, border security, and public safety.
“They will have their due process in immigration court if that’s what the law calls for while we go through the process to attempt to effectuate their removal,” McShane said.
At maximum capacity, the center will hold approximately 1900 people, but will initially house only up to 800 due to COVID-19 guidelines. All individuals at the facility will be in violation of immigration laws, varying from coming here illegally to overstayed visas and other permits.
“The beds will hold adults. There will not be any children. Primarily males, with some room for females,” said John Sobel, a Clearfield County Commissioner.
The reopening of the Moshannon Valley Correctional Center means jobs coming back to the area, GEO Group’s head of client relations, the private group that owns the prison said they plan to rehire many of those who lost their jobs earlier this year.
“When it closed it was very hard for a lot of folks. In fact, folks didn’t know what to do on that last day,” David Venturella said.
More than 300 people lost their jobs when the facility closed, and some had been with the GEO Group for its 20 years operating the facility.
“Now with this new contract over 300 will have the opportunities to be employed at the facility performing a new mission,” Venturella said.
The jobs that the GEO Group will be looking to hire to work including security officers and transportation officers, as well as registered nurses and others from the medical field.
“Training begins next Monday. So we will be in full operation as far as being able to except detainees in 45 to 60 days,” Venturella said.
Upgrades to the prison’s fencing and other parts of the building will get underway soon to prepare for the facility to open.
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