LatinaLista — In the past, as of three months ago, it used to be wherever ICE wanted to build an immigrant detention facility, they would encounter some local resistance, but eventually they got their way.
Immigrant detention facility
However, there are signs everywhere that people no longer feel pressured to “tow the party line” since the party isn’t in power anymore. The latest example of a local community rebuffing ICE is Mineral Wells, Texas.
Mineral Wells is so small that it’s not even listed on the U.S. Census Bureau’s official list of Texas cities but it seems to be big enough for ICE to want to build an immigrant detention facility.
Usually, the carrot for small towns to host such facilities is the revenue it automatically generates through incarcerating the immigrants. In the case of Mineral Wells, the expected generated revenue is $1 million.
Yet, city leaders in Mineral Wells aren’t as greedy for the money as ICE officials were hoping. In fact, they’ve done their homework and are exercising a vision that, up until now, the U.S. government has failed to utilize.
Ellen Hargle, a Mineral Wells resident, expressed her opposition for economic and moral reasons. She cited reports that small communities with ICE facilities â€œend up worse than those that do not have them.â€
She added that this includes such issues as â€œthe prison town effect, which deters business and economic development; tourism is deterred [and] there is a drain on the cityâ€™s infrastructure. This is all compacted by private investors receiving more return on the investment than the city gets.â€
â€œPrivate companies have little oversight,â€ Hargle added. â€œI do not believe this type of system is a morally correct way to treat immigrants. We need to find industry that benefits all citizens.â€
A few other city leaders joined Hargle in her opposition of the facility for a variety of reasons and so the city council has tabled the motion to allow the building of the detention facility until a community meeting can be called in the next few weeks.
It’s clear that between now and then the people of Mineral Wells will learn a lot more about who is housed in such facilities. Usually, the undocumented immigrants incarcerated in such facilities are the ones caught by surprise in work site raids or by way of a traffic stop.
Once caught, the immigrants aren’t allowed to contact their families to let them know what happened to them or where they are. Once they do re-establish contact with their family, they have been moved hours away to detention facilities far from easy access by their families.
This kind of “catch-and-jail” is unnecessary and inhumane when better alternatives exist. The rage for this kind of abuse of authority is finally being talked about in Congress.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has recently come under fire for declaring that current immigration enforcement procedures, used in rounding up the undocumented who are eventually housed in these detention facilities, are “un-American.”
“â€œAbout a week and a half ago, Congressman Gutierrez was in San Francisco on a Saturday night. We were packed and jammed in St. Anthonyâ€™s Church, hundreds and hundreds of people came. We heard from families who have had raids into their homes and into their families where families were separated.
And at the time, I said it there and Iâ€™ll say it here, that raids that break up families in that way, just kick in the door in the middle of the night, taking father, a parent away, thatâ€™s just not the American way. It must stop. Itâ€™s just not the American way. So we need this comprehensive reform, and we need it soon. And we need to stop those kinds of ICE raids in the meantime. .
The Speaker is right in that there are better ways to achieve our “rule of law” without resorting to the tactics long used by oppressive governments.
What is so un-American about drawing attention to that?