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Immigration facility plan upsets Yakima residents

Mon., Jan. 11, 2010

YAKIMA – The federal government’s plan for a new immigration detention facility in Yakima is not being welcomed by local residents.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering building a new facility in an industrial sector of Yakima. The new detention facility on a 4.3-acre site would have guardhouses and four holding cells for detainees being held temporarily.

But residents say the new facility would create increased traffic to an area heavily used by trucks, and the idea of people being held in cells is not sitting well.

“I call it a prison,” said Neill Hauff, who owns a company located near the site of the proposed new facility.

Hauff, who owns a company that makes wind machines and orchard sprayers, said he’s concerned about having a detention facility near the Carpenters Training Center, a place where high school students take part in a construction technology program.

The plan is under review by the city of Yakima. The city sent property owners near the proposed site a letter stating that the facility would see 41 people either reside or work at the nearly 24,000-square-foot building.

ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers described the facility as an office building and temporary holding facility.

“There’s no capacity or interest in holding anyone there for any period of time,” she said this week.

But Hauff’s main concern is that the new building will add more vehicle and pedestrian traffic. He points out that plans call for bus stops and sidewalks on streets often used by trucks to haul products and materials.

Hauff said there are other venues in Yakima County, such as a correctional facility the state is planning to close, that are more appropriate for ICE.

The government has been looking for facilities for ICE in the Yakima area for years, said Ross Buffington, spokesman for General Services Administration, which manages federal property.


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