Sudden ICE blast empties LCDC

By Roxanne McKnight
Staff Writer
A change in the way Immigration and Customs Enforcement handles illegal immigrants has left the Limestone County Detention Center with no detainees and employees at the county’s private prison with no job.
Nina Pruneda DHS ICE spokeswoman, said space had opened up closer to ICE’s San Antonio office.
“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) housed detainees at the Limestone County Detention Facility for about six weeks, ending on Friday, July 12. ICE determined that other facilities, closer to our local resources, are able to accommodate our detention needs at this time.”
According to Management & Training Corp., which took over as manager of the facility on June 28, ICE has decided to send its detainees to prison facilities near the border and return them to their respective home countries rather than hold them in facilities as far from the border as Limestone County.
ICE had seemed the answer to the county’s problems after the LCDC lost both its federal contract with the Bureau of Prisons and the company operating the facility in March. LCDC Warden and Administrator Mike Sutton quickly found contacts in ICE who expressed strong interest in using the prison to house illegal immigrants. By the time MTC took over, ICE had come up with funding to use 500 beds in the 1,035-bed facility, had moved hundreds of detainees into the prison and showed interest in the remaining beds.
Because of the nature of illegal immigrant detention, there is a constant flux in population, but when the population of detainees at the LCDC dropped to zero Friday, County Judge Daniel Burkeen said he called MTC.
“Friday I talked to them because the rumors were they were shutting down and pulling everybody out,” Burkeen said, “and I talked to them and they said ‘no, we’ve got all these things in the works.’ But the guy I was talking to didn’t know that the HR department had already done the notices, and they had to do an immediate layoff rather than the 30-day thing.”

To read more, pick up a copy of Thursday's The Mexia News, or subscribe to our e-edition.