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Immigration Detention

Emerald Not Giving Up on Mineral Wells Detention Center

Emerald Companies is refusing to give up on the idea of a proposed private detention center in Mineral Wells, despite a recent rebuffing by that community's city council ("ICE facility put on chill," Mineral Wells Index, April 16) according to an interview with the company's COO Steve Afeman in the Mineral Wells Index ("Emerald open to alternate locations for ICE center," April 21),

Emerald Companies is open to looking at other site locations in Mineral Wells for the proposed Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detention center, according to Chief Operating Officer Steve Afeman.

Mayor Mike Allen's decision to postpone any city council action on Emerald's specific use permit application at the proposed location northeast of Mineral Wells Municipal Airport in order to look for other potential sites has delayed the project but not killed it, according to Afeman.

“It's a curve in the road, it's not a dead end,” Afeman said. “It's still a good project, the need's still there.”

Afeman said he has been told that the main opposition from city leaders has been about the location near the airport rather than the prison itself.

Emerald entered into a 90-day option agreement, with the option for an extension, in January with the Industrial Foundation to buy nearly 62-acres northeast of the airport for $1 per acre. Emerald must meet certain criteria, including obtaining a specific use permit from the city, within the deadline to purchase the land.

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United Methodist Bishops Call for End to Private Detention Centers

A group of Bishops of the United Methodist Church recently released a statement directed toward President Obama that calls for the end of all private detention centers.  The statement encourages the president to work for:

  • A pathway to citizenship for immigrants;
  • Reunification of immigrant families who have been separated by immigration itself or due to workplace raids and ensuing indefinite detentions and deportations;
  • More visas for short-term workers to come into the United States in safe, legal, and orderly ways;
  • Legal protection to all workers who come to stay for a certain period of time as well as for those who stay permanently, including the right to bargain for higher wages, protest poor working conditions, and preserve their human rights whether they are documented or undocumented;
  • Elimination of privately-operated, unregulated detention centers;
  • An end to all indiscriminate raids.

We applaud the Bishops in taking a stand to encourage the president to addres immigration and eliminate private detention centers

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Is LCS's Robstown Prison Being Bailed Out by Operation Streamline Detainees?

An influx of federal prisoners from the United States Marshals Service will help bailout a troubled south Texas private prison, according to a story in the Corpus-Christi Caller-Times ("Prison Firm Rehires 40," March 6th),

As federal prisoners began arriving at the privately owned LCS detention facility in Robstown on Friday, a company official said employees who were laid off in January have been rehired.  In response to the influx of prisoners into the 1,100-bed facility, which has sat empty since it opened in September, the prison has called back some 40 employees who were laid off in January, bringing the current number of employees up to 75, said Dick Harbison, LCS vice president of operations.

“It’s full steam ahead right now,” he said. And beginning Monday, the company plans to hire another 80 employees with starting pay at $11 an hour.  The news comes a week after Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal and the U.S. Marshals agreed on a temporary price tag for prisoner housing.

LCS will get roughly $44 per prisoner per day under the terms of an addendum to the contract already in place for housing prisoners in Hidalgo County.  Harbison on Friday could not confirm how many bus loads of prisoners were being delivered to the facility.

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Emerald Corrections Building New ICE Detention Center in Mineral Wells

Emerald Corrections appears to be fast-tracking a proposed immigrant detention center in Mineral Wells, according to an article in the Mineral Wells Index ("ICE facility project heating up; Federal detention facility plans moving forward," February 13),

Emerald Companies will be submitting permitting and zoning plans to the city this week as the next step toward building an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detainee facility in Mineral Wells.

“I see no stumbling blocks or hindrances at this point,” Steve Afeman, chief operating officer of Emerald Companies, said.

The Mineral Wells Industrial Foundation and Emerald Companies entered into an option agreement Jan. 15.

“Basically, they’ve got 90 days to exercise their option … or they don’t get the land,” Industrial Foundation’s Steve Butcher said. “This makes us [feel the project] is moving ahead.”

Mineral Wells is already home to a state-contracted Corrections Corporation of America pre-parole and transfer facility that was the site of four smuggling arrests last year and at least one riot.  See Nick's three part investigative series for more information. This facility also seems to spark considerable interest in our readers, with many family members commenting on conditions at the facility and many defenders of the prison posting lengthy rebuttals of our posts.

The major questions that jump out to me on the current Emerald proposal are:

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