Detention center coming to Glenwood |

Detention center coming to Glenwood

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Federal officials are moving forward with plans to set up an immigrant detention center in Glenwood Springs after a similar proposal was rejected in Carbondale three years ago.

The city planning and zoning commission approved a special use permit for the facility in May.

Officials with the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement want the office to house five “quick response team” officers and have a 438-square-foot holding area to detain suspected illegal immigrants for a maximum of 12 hours.

After 12 hours, the immigrants would have to be moved to other facilities.

Although the Planning and Zoning Commission formally approved a special use permit for the facility, city planner Jill Peterson said she’s waiting for the site developer to submit an emergency evacuation and medical transportation plan and details of the lighting plan.

“The ball’s in their court as far as that’s concerned,” she said.

Construction hasn’t yet started at the site, which is located across Midland Avenue from the Glenwood Springs Municipal Operations Center and the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s Glenwood Springs maintenance facility. The center will occupy one of the four units at the Midland Center Subdivision.

Building permits have not yet been pulled, Peterson said.

The Glenwood Springs proposal drew “none of the controversy that they experienced in Carbondale,” community development director Andrew McGregor said. “I guess there’s reason to be concerned, but it didn’t capture anybody’s fascination.”

Applicant Russell Furry’s plan described the 6,715-square-foot project as a processing center and holding facility for illegal immigrants.

The center will have 2,100 square feet for processing and support and 1,376 square feet of garage space.

Three years ago, Carbondale residents thwarted efforts by the INS to open an office there. Residents shot down the plan with an attorney hired by a group from the ski resort town.

Scott Chaplin, director of the Stepstone Center social justice organization in Carbondale, said he hadn’t been aware of the Glenwood Springs plan.

“My concern about INS detention facilities in general is that people are held in ways that totally violate the U.S. Constitution,” he said. “The right to a lawyer. A speedy trial. There’s people who have been in INS detention facilities for months and years on end without being charged.”

The Glenwood-based quick response team covers Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties. From January to March, officials said, about 40 suspected criminal immigrants were processed each month.

Officials also said six smuggling loads were stopped in the area through March, containing an average of 12 people per vehicle.

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