But Kelly Kimball, a former Arenac County commissioner who opposes the transfer, said at Tuesday’s town-hall meeting that the residents have been misinformed. She said jobs at the prison will be held by federal government employees and military personnel, who will be transient - not local. These prison employees will not move their families to the area and likely will take their money elsewhere rather than boost the local economy.
“The people who are in favor of this have been told by elected officials who were told by the Department of Defense that there will be 1,000 jobs and $1 million dumped into this community. But our officials haven’t been able to get anything in writing,” she said. “Everything that is being said is unsubstantiated.”
Linda Brenner of Detroit, who also opposes the plan, said, “People here are operating in the dark. They don’t know about the background of these detainees.”
She said administration and state leaders have been too quiet on their intentions while local leaders near Standish have negotiated with the federal government without state oversight.
“We are operating in a black hole of information here,” said Ms. Brenner, who helped organize forums, including one in Rochester Hills, Mich., on Monday that drew about 300 people.
Federal officials toured the Standish prison, located about 150 miles from Detroit, in August. Mr. King said he met with 23 government officials this summer and that their talks were productive.
On his first full day in office, Mr. Obama pledged to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center within a year, but several administration officials have since hinted that the deadline may not be met. Federal officials have said a prison in Leavenworth, Kan., is under consideration.
Megan Brown, deputy press secretary for Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, said the governor’s position on the issue remains the same.
“She has said that she has concerns and until those concerns are addressed she is not in favor of relocating Guantanamo detainees to Michigan,” Ms. Brown said Wednesday. “We have been in continuous conversations with the White House and they have let us know that no decisions have been made.”
Ms. Granholm has attempted to bring prisoners from other states with overcrowded prison systems, including California and Pennsylvania, to fill the void and job losses at Standish.
State Sen. Wayne Kuipers, Holland Republican and chairman of Michigan’s Senate Judiciary Committee, bemoaned what he and other lawmakers fear are local and federal officials circumventing state lawmakers to push through the prisoner exchange. He said he plans to fight such efforts.
“If those prisoners are going to be here in Michigan, it will be on our terms,” he said.
State Rep. Joe Haveman, Holland Republican, this week introduced House Resolution 165, which calls on Mr. Obama and members of Congress to oppose the detainee relocation to the U.S.
His bill notes that while Michigan unemployment is significant, “making such an important decision that will affect the selected community and Michigan for years or decades to come based on today’s unemployment rate ignores the potential ongoing national security consequences of such a decision.”
Mr. Haveman, who attended the Okemos forum Tuesday, said the risk is too great for his state to cave in to economic pressures. He said the federal government has not responded to requests for classified information on detainees and has refused to allow state and local leaders to tour Guantanamo Bay to see for themselves what it takes to house the prisoners there.