County draws fire over ‘jail’ project
By LPR Staff
Several concerned citizens approached the Caldwell County Commissioners” Court on Monday to express their resistance toward the idea of an immigration detention center in Caldwell County.
The Commissioners heard a proposal last week from Emerald Corrections Management, suggesting the Lytton Springs area as a prime locati
on for a 1,000-bed detention center for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Area residents, however, had other ideas.
“I want to know who came up with this idea,” one said. “I”m not against having it, but put it in [another] district. I don”t want it in my back yard.”
Another argued that Emerald has a poor reputation for working with counties and has been at the center of several lawsuits over inmate treatment. He also suggested the construction of jails is not the economic gold mine that some believe it to be.
In point of fact, the facility will not be a “jail,” but a short-term holding facility for illegal immigrants as their deportation paperwork is processed by ICE. According to Emerald, the detainees would be neither families nor violent offenders, simply deportees from across the country waiting to be transported back to South and Central America and to Mexico.
County Judge H.T. Wright noted he supports upholding the laws of the country, and sees no problem with a deportation detention facility, as that goes. He suggested some of the opponents to the project oppose not the facility, but the governmental policy at the heart of deportation.
That is a policy, all Commissioners said, that Caldwell County does not have the power to change.
Each member of the Court stated he had received phone calls or emails from constituents concerned about the facility. In an attempt to address those concerns and others that may arise, Wright chose to appoint Commissioners Joe Roland and Tom Bonn to form a committee of citizens to discuss the project, and to help gather information that will help the Court decide whether to move forward.
Should the Court decide to move forward with the project, a series of public hearings will be held after the holidays to hear citizen input.
In other business, the Commissioners held a brief public hearing to discuss the County”s animal control and rabies regulations.
According to Commissioner Charles Bullock, current state law requires that animals be immunized for rabies every three years, while Caldwell County requires annual immunization.
In speaking with veterinarians, Bullock said, he determined modern rabies vaccinations are effective for up to three years. He suggested, then, that the county should alter the existing resolution to mirror the state”s policy.
The Commissioners passed the resolution with no public input and very little discussion.
In brief news:
The Commissioners denied a request from the Southwest Museum of Clocks and Watches to conduct tours of the Caldwell County Courthouse Clocktower. The main concern about the tours was the admission that would be charged by the museum for the tours.
They considered a preliminary plat of The Woods at St. John, a new proposed subdivision in Northeast Caldwell County. They tabled the item until they can obtain more information.
The Commissioners discussed the outdoor burning ban, and opted to leave the ban in place through the holiday season.
The County paid bills in the amount of $125,750.56, which included $6,455.48 for indigent legal defense and $36,225.61 for indigent health care.
The Caldwell County Commissioners” Court will resume meetings after the holidays, with meetings taking place on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month. Meetings are held at 9 a.m. in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse.