"We do not have a contract in place," Littlefield City Manager Mike Arismendez said early on in the meeting. "We have talked about frameworks of a contract."
Arismendez was joined by the Littlefield City Council and Mayor Tuesday night for the meeting. They addressed a crowd of Littlefield and even Lamb County residents about what they have talk to ICE, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about in the last two years.
Arismendez said he's been in talks with ICE off and on for the last two years about the Bill Clayton Detention Center, which has been vacant for the last five years.
"ICE is going to pay us for medical, housing, food, education," Arismendez said.
The town hall meeting was set up to allow those in attendance to write down their questions and concerns about the possibility, have Arismendez respond, and then there was also time for residents to ask questions directly to the city leaders.
Many of the concerns focused on the same topics: health, security, and education.
Arismendez addressed the concerns about people being able to leave the facility and be out in Littlefield.
"We're responsible for keeping them there, and detaining them, so they're not allowed to roam free in the city, which was another question we had," Arismendez said.
"I think it could have some good economic impact for us, but I see a lot of concerns that other people too have with the things the facility would bring if and when we ever got the contract," Carl Parker said after the meeting.
There were plenty in attendance who seemed to support the idea, as well as plenty who did not. At one point during the time for residents to speak, one man asked people to stand if they supported this idea, and then asked people to stand if they did not support it. It was close to a 50/50 split on the two, though the man who asked the question noted that it seemed like more people stood up who did not support the idea.
In addressing questions at the meeting, Arismendez spoke a lot about the education issue. He said that any education or medical care would take place inside the facility. Arismendez also spoke about the jobs this facility would create, and that currently, the facility is not helping the city financially since it is empty.
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