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Community Pushback Ends Proposal for Another South Texas Immigrant Detention Center

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Another South Texas county has said no to a proposed family immigration detention center. - CHRISTOPHER CARDINALE
  • Christopher Cardinale
  • Another South Texas county has said no to a proposed family immigration detention center.
Dimmit County commissioners on Monday unanimously voted against a proposal to bring a family detention center to the area, following Jim Wells County, where another immigration detention proposal was declined on June 14.

Dan Stratton, owner of Stratton Oilfield Services, proposed turning a former work camp for oilfield workers into what he called a hotel-stye family detention center. 

"The federal government has a need to establish a family residential facility. I didn’t say detention facility," Stratton said. The facility wouldn't have bars or razor wire and kids would have access to education, Stratton told a packed house in Dimmit County. 

"There will be classrooms. Why? Because they don’t go to school in your schools," Stratton said. "They go to schools on the camp. Can they leave the camp? No. No. They cannot leave the camp."

According to Stratton, the hotel-style lockup would be a state licensed childcare facility. However, on June 2, Austin Judge Karen Crump ordered an injunction against the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which was trying to license an immigration detention center in the small South Texas town of Dilley as a childcare facility.

Mohammad Abdollahi, a spokesman for the nonprofit RAICES, which provides legal aid to undocumented immigrants, said residents told Dimmit County commissioners that they were worried about undocumented immigrants being brought into the community.

"There was a lot of sentiment against illegals being brought to their local community but also important to note [were] comments made about the oil boom coming to town leaving and devastating the market and that this sounded a lot like another boom without much foresight," Abdollahi said via email.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, however, appears to be intent on building another detention facility. In April, it requested information from interested contractors who have the capability to build a detention center that could hold approximately 1,900 detainees.

The Dimmit County vote comes less than a week after the Supreme Court's split decision over President Barack Obama's executive order that would have protected more than four million immigrants from deportation.

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