The New Mexico Border Patrol training academy is slated to become the new home for up to 700 illegal immigrants, with state lawmakers only finding out about the plans last week, reports CBS Houston.
Tensions have been raised between state and federal authorities, as a result of the proposal, owing to the federal government’s unilateral action.
The plans for the six-year dormant facility, located in Artesia, New Mexico, came to the forefront when US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials abruptly showed up and informed Arestia Mayor Phillip Burch that it would become a transition center, following an announcement from the Obama administration last week.
The facility is expected to hold around 700 immigrants, with processing time expected to be an average of 30 days for each individual.
Republican state Rep. Candy Ezzell is concerned that the facility to temporarily house immigrants will transition to a longer term care center and encourage further illegal immigration. She wants residents to speak out against the center. Mayor Phillip Burch has also raised some concerns expressed by residents. In particular, locals are worried about unvaccinated children and attempted escape from the facility.
“It raises a lot of suspicion and creates a lot of distrust, as far as the community goes,” Ezzell said.
Mayor Burch compared the facility to a prison “to some degree,” although he tempered his remarks by noting that the women and children housed at the facility would not be hardened criminals. However, Burch thinks it unlikely that the center will be temporary.
“I saw the rooms, and I got upset,” Ezzell said. “There were four sets of bunks in every room. These were nice rooms, with televisions, toys and books. It says to immigrants, ‘Why not try to come back, if this is what America has to offer?’ ”
“Washington needs to start getting their act together and they need to just start addressing this issue which was promised the first year of the first term of President Obama,” New Mexico Susanna Martinez said.
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