Commissioners Asked by ICE to Provide Security for Detention Facility Housing Illegal Immigrants

Commissioners Asked by ICE to Provide Security for Detention Facility Housing Illegal Immigrants

By Alicia Neaves

NewsWest 9

EDDY COUNTY - Controversy in Eddy County. Commissioners are looking at providing security for a facility housing illegal immigrants from Central America. But not everyone is happy with that idea.

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Eddy County Commissioners discussed the idea of providing security for the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia. But opinions weighed heavily against it. Why? The lack of information and people to work.

"We need to learn more about it before we can commit to that service," Tony Hernandez, Eddy County Commissioner of District 1, said.

Eddy County is also in the middle of an economic boom but finding the resources to help Immigration and Customs Enforcement is a challenge.

"They wanted up to 80 personnel to do this," Jack Volpato, Eddy County Commissioner of District 4, said.

Commissioners say they would have to outsource. Since other agencies, for example, their local detention facility, already face a shortage of workers.

"We have a real issue by just getting people to staff that need that they have," Volpato said.

The decision from the county is not yet concrete. But based on the information handed to them, most were against the idea.

"The general consensus of the commissioners was that we would probably not seek that service for ICE," Hernandez said.

In a statement sent to NewsWest 9, ICE says they are now, "In the process of contracting for guard services for the Artesia Family Residential Center (AFRC). Currently, officers from ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) and special agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) are providing security to AFRC. ICE is evaluating the proposals it has received for guard services."

ICE also says security at the Artesia facility will be the same as all other ICE residential centers.

Although commissioners are still discussing the possibility of helping out, their main focus is what's best for their county and the best procedural process for immigrants who will either stay or go back to their home country.

"We want to make sure that these people are now in a safe environment where no harm can come to them while they're being processed," Volpato said.