Empty Texas detention center could house immigrants

Empty Texas detention center could house immigrants

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LITTLEFIELD, TX (KVII/CNN) - An empty detention center in Littlefield, TX is being considered as a holding place for illegal immigrants. The facility has been closed since 2009.

"The facility is ready to go at this point and time, we've maintained the facility over these last few years to ensure that if we had a possible occupants that we could move them in immediately," said Littlefield City Manager, Mike Arismendez.

"We maintain it pretty much on a monthly basis. We flush the toilets, sweep the floors, mop floors, keep everything flowing. This has taken away from our normal activities. Baby-sitting this thing," said Michael Williamson, head of Public Utilities.

The upkeep is at the cost the small town; $750,000 of their annual budget is spent on the empty facility. The city manager's rebuttal to opposition for housing illegal immigrants is the city could use the revenue. Plus, the issue is not something he can change on a local level.

"It's a federal issue as to how they're going to secure the border. We simply have a mechanism and the ability to place individuals in our facility to house them," Arismendez said.

And if the words detention center make you cringe for those who may have to stay there, you may want to think again. This one was originally built for juveniles and has a medical center, outdoor recreation, gym and more.

"Full of books, resources, law library just around the corner," Williamson said.

The largest pod can house 128 people and the two others are similar, just smaller.

"It's going to have an impact to the city, it's going to have job creation, it'll help alleviate the debt service, so we can kind of see it as a positive for the city," Arismendez said.

The city has been talking with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the past two years on the issue, but they are not celebrating the new management until the deal is closed.

"Depends on how the government funds everything and until they signed the dotted line," Williamson said.

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