Illegal immigration detention center coming to Charlotte, NC

It’ll be the first of its kind in the nation:

Federal immigration officials want to build a 1,500-bed detention facility in Mecklenburg County to house illegal immigrants before they’re deported.

The facility would ease the strain on the county’s overcrowded jails, where 500 inmates sleep on the floor every night.

The center — the first in the country — could open in less than two years and would be the final stop for illegal immigrants from the South and Mid-Atlantic regions, Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph said.

It would be built and owned by a private developer and leased by the county, which would bill the federal government for each inmate who spends the night. Pendergraph said it was unclear how long it would take the developer to recoup the capital costs.

The news of the holding center comes five months after the U.S. Department of Justice announced plans to open an immigration court in Charlotte. The court is scheduled to open early next year.

Pendergraph said he and U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, a Charlotte Republican, traveled to Washington twice this year to lobby for the detention facility. He received a letter of intent from officials at Immigration and Customs Enforcement this month.

They said, “If you build it, we’ll come,” Pendergraph said.

“They’re so short on space,” he said, “they would even bring prisoners from as far as New York.”

Pendergraph said that his office had already been in contact with potential developers and that the center could be open in as few as 18 months. His office is looking for sites.

Hats off to Sheriff Pendergraph, who received national recognition last year for his department’s efforts on cracking downon illegal immigration, and Rep. Sue Myrick, a staunch anti-illegal immigration fighter.

Related to the illegal immigration issue, I see Newt Gingrich is once again using his role as sideline critic to wrongly attack Congress and the President for going on vacation “while three college students in NJ were killed by illegal immigrants,” as if their staying in office would have stopped the horrific execution-style murders:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday he is “sickened” that President Bush and Congress went on vacation “while young Americans in our cities are massacred” by illegal immigrants.

Gingrich, who is considering a run for the White House, was referring to a recent crime in Newark, N.J., where three college students were murdered execution style in a school playground.

One of the suspects — Jose Lachira Carranza — is an illegal immigrant from Peru who was on bail on charges of raping a child when the murders occurred.

Gingrich said another suspect is an illegal immigrant from Nicaragua with a long record of arrests who was ordered deported in 1993 but never left.

However, The (Newark) Star Ledger reported Tuesday that the man — Rodolfo Godinez — obtained permanent legal residency in 2001.

The Newark Police Department did not return requests for comment.

Gingrich said that the “war here at home” against illegal immigrants is “even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“The federal government’s incompetence, timidity and uncoordinated efforts to identify and deport criminal illegal aliens have had devastating consequences for innocent Americans,” Gingrich said, in a newsletter.

Gingrich said that the “war here at home” against illegal immigrants is “even more deadly than the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“As an American, I am sickened that the political leadership of America could continue to go on vacation and do nothing,” he said. “Why are the August vacations for the president and the Congress more precious than the lives of young Americans who are being killed because of government incompetence and inaction.”

Gingrich said that President Bush should call Congress back into special session for three days to pass a bill in honor of the slain students.

As an American, I’m sickened by Newt Gingrich’s implication that if our immigration laws were being enforced like they should be, that these murders (and others we hear about) wouldn’t have happened. I’m just as horrified by the murders, too, and also am on board with our immigration laws being both enforced and strengthened. But I’m not naive enough to believe that if we do everything we possibly can to cut down on illegal immigration that crimes like this won’t happen again. Yes, we most definitely need to enforce our immigration laws, and yes doing so would cut down on the chances of it happening, but it’s not going to eliminate it, and someone in his influential position should know better than to broadcast faulty implied assurances that crimes like this won’t happen once those laws are enforced and strengthened as they should be.

As I’ve said before, this issue deserves realism, not idealism. Since Newt has slammed the Republican contenders running for president as a bunch of “pathetic pygmies,” as well as the Congress and the current president for what they have and have not done on the immigration issue, I say he put his money where his mouth is and throw his hat in the ring so he can show everyone else how to do it better.


Comments are closed.