When is ICE going to announce its new detention center located in the old Wal-Mart building. Or is this going to be a secret place? — In the Know, El Centro
El Centro city officials did say the builder on this project, the Government Services Administration, was being discrete initially.
Lauren Mack, spokeswomen with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the investigation-heavy arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said ICE is bringing its two main departments in El Centro together under one roof — Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement and Removal Operations.
“About 160 employees from both departments will work in the new office, which is expected to open within the next 30 days,” she said. Mack explained the entire Valley operation will be in that building.
The office is not a detention center, but “detainees will be processed at this location, but will not be held onsite for longer than 12 hours,” Mack said.
City building and planning chief Norma Villicaña said DHS is only taking up about one-quarter to one-third of the total building space, or more than 30,000 square feet of the 120,000 square feet.
The area is zoned for general commercial and office space, so it could not function as a long-term holding area, she said.
City Manager Ruben Duran said the owner of the building is actively trying to rent or lease the rest of the space.