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Emerald Proposes Another Caldwell County Detention Center; Mustang Ridge Official Condemned for Racial Slur

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A number of readers have alerted us about this story. Emerald Corrections is proposing yet another 1,000 bed immigrant detention center in Caldwell County ("Area's 2nd Immigrant Holding Center..." KLBJ, March 21) just months after a similar proposal was defeated after widespread community opposition on the other side of the county. This time, Emerald has proposed the private detention center in Mustang Ridge, a small town on the border between Caldwell and Travis Counties.

The issue was thrust into the public eye last week after an agenda item appeared on Creedmoor-Maha Water Supply Corporation agenda calling the proposed facility a "holding pen for wetbacks." The copy of the agenda is online. The man who put the offensive item on the Water Supply Corporation meeting agenda is Charles Laws, who in addition to his role as Creedomore-Maha Board of Directors, is also the Mayor Pro Tem of Mustang Ridge and a founder of the town which was incorporated in 1985.

Laws refused to apologize or step down after his comments drew condemnation as "open bigotry" from public officials ("Mustang Ridge Official..., Statesman, March 22) such as Austin City Council Member Mike Martinez, state Sen. Kirk Watson, and state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez. Creedmore-Maha's water contracts with the city of Austin and other entities could be in jeopardy. Not everyone in Mustang Ridge seems happy about Mr. Laws comments either. According to a News 8 story ("Mustange Ridge Residents React", March 22), several residents of the city think Mr. Laws should resign.

Lisa Munoz and her family have called Mustang Ridge home for nine years. She called the use of the phrase "very offensive." "No he does not deserve to stay in office. I don't think so," Munoz said.

The population of Mustang Ridge is just under 1,000 people. According to the Mayor more than 60 percent are Hispanic, including himself. "It was a shock to me," Mustang Ridge Mayor Alfred Vallejo said.

Of course, possibly more offensive than Mr. Laws comments is the proposed detention center itself. Proposed by Louisiana-based private prison operator Emerald Corrections, it appears the private prison would be built on speculation with the idea that it would house up to 1,000 immigrant detainees. KLBJ's story speculates that the facility might hold immigrant families like the notorious T. Don Hutto detention center.

What is more likely in my opinion is that the facility would house a combination of adult immigrant detainees contracted from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service - including immigrants being charged criminally and incarcerated for merely crossing the border under the ludicrously wasteful (and dreadfully misnamed) Operation Streamline. Bloomberg News ("Bush Crackdown on Illegal Aliens Stretches Marshals to Limit" March 12) reported last week that this policy is already diverting resources from traditional Marshals tasks like "capturing escaped prisoners and rounding up sex offender."

We'll have more posts coming on the Mustang Ridge detention center, including a post on the economic impact of the facility. In the meantime, take a look at our previous coverage of Emerald's attempts to build a detention center in Caldwell County:

Comments

That way i can have my husband close to me than in san antonio geo detention center.

Mustang ridge is still racists the two ladies that sit on there ass all day and are suppose to help the community with any questions that they might have never do so. For anything that the community wants to do like build there house or get permets they just say that you cant do so. So my question is who can we talk to get this two ladies fired. I believe there names are Charlie and Caroline. I wish that the government would take note on all this or travis. The way mustange ridge is treating the people. The only reason they get away with it all is because a high percentage of the population is hispanic and dont speak english well. There the second in the nation with the whole speed trap iasue and Charles laws Jr is the one that made the racists comment saying " holding pen for wetbacks" and his the "Mayor pro team of Mustang ridge." If anyone has any information on how to report all this please post. Iv tried to ask for phone numbers at the mustange ridge office but the two ladies refuse to give me any numbers or names on people to discuse all this issues because they know there the main problem to.There always smoking just laughing and talking about the residents of mustange ridge . Come on some one should fired them and get friendlier staff for the community to go to for help. One of the ladies daughter is married to one of the sons city council so come on they support each other on there acts. Anyone knows how or who to talk to about concerns or issues with mustang ridge .?