Littlefield makes plans to open facility for illegal immigrants

Published: Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:47 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 10, 2014 at 1:51 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Many cities in Texas are considering temporarily housing illegal immigrants, and now, Littlefield is included on that list.

Littlefield City Manager Mike Arismendez said he has been speaking with high-ranking U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in hopes of turning the city’s vacant Bill Clayton Detention Center into a detainee facility for illegal immigrants.

The City of Littlefield used an $11 million bond to build the center back in 2000, but financial troubles forced the prison to close about five years ago.

With no luck selling or leasing the property, it became a money pit, but city officials said they have a plan in the works.

"I was able to schedule meeting with high-ranking ICE officials in D.C.,” Arismendez said, “and representatives of Littlefield went in to make a presentation."

Arismendez said that he hopes to negotiate a contract with the ICE so illegal immigrants can be housed at their 382-bed facility.

"It would provide jobs for the City of Littlefield,” he said, “it would provide a revenue stream into the city to help offset the debt service of the facility, so it would have a positive economic impact into our city."

Arismendez said the facility could bring more than $10 million a year, and that ICE would be financially responsible for the complete detention of the illegal immigrants.

"They would either pay a per-detainee rate per day or a flat rate month fee,” he said.

Arismendez said he has not received any negative feedback.

“It has been well received by our community,” he said. “We received letters of support from various individuals.”

He said one of those letters of support came from Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson.

Congressman Randy Neugebauer said he is aware of additional capacity available in his district.

"I think we need to keep all of our resources at the border,” Congressman Neugebauer said. “There's been some discussion by the administration of building some detention facilities for these children. I'm not in favor of building any detention centers, we need to be building fences, but in the meantime if we can utilize some of the excess capacity in the system then certainly that's something the administration should consider.”

Arismendez said if they negotiate a contract with ICE, they could have the facility up and running within three weeks to thirty days, but that ICE is known to have facilities ready to go within a week.

As of Wednesday, a contract has not been signed.

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