South Texas officials have decided not to go further into the business of family detention, rejecting a bid from an oil company based in South Carolina to use a former Dimmit County worker camp as a hotel-style detention facility for families that could have offered much better conditions than two nearby facilities. The officials unanimously rejected the bid following a one hour meeting on Monday, citing concerns over the impact it would have on local infrastructure and security.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been encouraging bids for a new facility in the area to hold up to 500 women and child immigrants from Central America, even though many politicians and advocates have been demanding such facilities close altogether, declaring them to be nothing more than prisons.
Security concerns were addressed by company president Dan Stratton on Monday night at a packed Dimmit County meeting, in which he said that detainees would not be allowed to leave the camp and there would be armed guards on patrol even though there would be no fence. While advocates dislike the notion of any form of imprisonment, many members of the local community feared Stratton’s notion of security would not actually provide enough security.
Other residents had different concerns, sarcastically noting that the center sounded like it was offering undocumented immigrants better living conditions than they have themselves. The public comments section was ultimately closed with a unanimous vote to reject the bid, a decision approved by advocates for very different reasons.