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Proposed Raymondville Family Detention Center Being Pushed by Prison Developer

While we've reported that one of the three new family detention centers proposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement may end up in Raymondville, I hadn't seen this Valley Morning Story until recently. The story provides more details on the proposed Raymondville lock-up,

City officials are considering a proposal to build a 200-bed, $30 million detention center to hold illegal immigrant families.

Raymondville city commissioners sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to support a plan to build the detention center, City Manager Eleazar Garcia said Wednesday. "We haven't committed ourselves to anything yet, except we're interested and would like to know more about it," Garcia said.

Since the mid-1990s, Willacy County has built prisons and a detention center in the Raymondville industrial park. Already there are a 1,000-bed state prison, a 500-bed county prison, a 96-bed county jail and a 3,000-bed illegal immigrant detention center, the largest in the United States.

We've reported in the past on Raymondville's growing dependence on immigrant detention beds to survive economically. We've also reported that prisons do not create long-term economic growth, and that prison towns tend to scare away more beneficial industries. Of course, there are those that stand to benefit from a new detention center in Raymondville - prison developers and private prison operaters.

According to the article, one of those is Michael Harling of Municipal Capital Markets Group.

Michael Harling of Municipal Capital Markets Group in Dallas, which would work to finance the project, said it would create 200 jobs. Harling called the city to ask if officials would consider the project, Garcia said.

"They asked if the city would be supportive of putting it in the industrial park," Garcia said. The city would sell bonds to fund construction of the project, Harling said.

Federal revenue derived from holding illegal immigrants would pay off the bonds, Harling said. Garcia said the detention center would allow illegal immigrant parents to be housed with their children.

"It's not a detention center," Harling said. "It's a facility for holding families, for holding people who have not committed crimes."

I certainly find it interesting and more than a little disturbing that a prison financier - someone who makes their money off the floating of bonds to build prisons - is the one who is acting as the spokesperson for the policy of detaining children and their families.

We'll keep you updated on developments on ICE's three new proposed family detention centers.