VICTORVILLE, CA (FOX 11) - Busloads of immigrant detainees arrived Friday morning at the Federal Correction Complex in Victorville, part of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy on immigration.
"It's been too hard. People are just looking to have a future, and really all their doing is separating families," said Jason Bobadilla, whose parents own a bakery near the prison.
The move is sparking anger among immigrants' rights groups who are vowing to fight it.
"For the first time, the US Government is going to be putting immigration detainees in Federal prison, therefore treating them like criminals," said Derek Loh, an immigration attorney with Immigrant Defenders Law Center.
There are also concerns among union leaders representing workers at the prison.
"Safety is a huge concern for us because now we're bringing a thousand new people in, and we don't have the staff to cover that," said John Zumkehr, Vice President of AFGE Local 3969. He said prision officials received word earlier this week that up to 1,0000 immigrants would be housed in Victorville. He's expecially concerned about the lack of medical personnel. The union has reached out to local lawmakers to sound the alarm.
"Just telling them that the staffing levels are unsafe. that we need more staff, that we have the funding for more staff but that they're refusing to hire staff," Zumkehr said.
Immigration and customs is overseeing the transfer. ICE responded with a statement saying in part that "the use of BOP facilities is intended to be a temporary measure until ICE can obtain additional long term contracts for new detention facilities or until the surge in illegal border crossings subsides." But as the empty buses depart, visitation to the prison has been suspended until further notice as concerns mount.
"Major concerns are due process, access to detainees, access to lawyers ability to visit with health care providers, psychologists, doctors and their ability to proceed with their case in a fair and expeditious manner," said Loh.
Immigrants will reportedly continue to arrive over the weekend and possibly through Tuesday. How long they stay and where they with ultimately end up is still unclear.