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Pingree to DHS Secretary: Review ICE Facility Expansion in Scarborough

1st District Congresswoman highlights lack of transparency, stakeholder participation, and opposition from community

In a letter sent today to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today expressed her ongoing concern with the relocation and expansion of an ICE facility from South Portland to Scarborough. Pingree first requested a delay in opening the facility in March 2020, citing the lack of transparency and engagement with the local community. Full text of her letter is available online here.

“Last year, constituents and local elected officials began to raise concerns about the General Service Administration’s (GSA) decision to lease a building in Scarborough, Maine for an ICE office that will be co-located with a Vet Center. I requested that GSA consider delaying ICE’s occupancy of the building until the local community and stakeholders could have the opportunity to engage with GSA and ICE regarding the relocation plan,” said Pingree in her letter“Of the highest concern was the perceived lack of transparency and stakeholder participation in the relocation process, as most members of the community learned of the relocation through a press report based on an email obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.”

Pingree stated: “I have also heard significant opposition from the veteran community in my district, many of whom are deeply concerned that this facility is to be co-located with a Vet Center. I share their concerns that the presence of the ICE facility could deter non-citizen veterans from seeking medical treatment at the Vet Center, and that the presence of detained individuals at or transiting to the ICE facility could be harmful to veterans diagnosed with trauma-induced mental health disorders.”

“The community opposition to the relocation of this facility remains strong and continues to grow,” Pingree continued. “This comes at a time when there has been an unprecedented influx of asylum seekers arriving in southern Maine. Those who are committed to their integration and contributions feel strongly that ICE’s reputation is antithetical to their values and goals. Scarborough constituents have stated that they have worked hard for their town to be safe and welcoming, and they feel that the presence of an ICE facility undermines those efforts. I strongly urge you to review the relocation plan for this facility and engage in an open and transparent dialogue with the local community and elected officials about their concerns.”

For transparency and to collect better information on the facility’s relocation, Pingree additionally requested DHS and ICE to answer the following questions: 

  1. What are the specific parameters that DHS sets for GSA in selecting a location for a new or existing ICE facility?
  2. Are there additional parameters given when selecting a location for a facility with detention capacity?
  3. Does DHS consider co-location with other federal agencies when relocating an ICE facility, including any veterans’ health care facilities?  
  4. What specific information is DHS required to provide to the town where a new facility is set to be located, or an existing facility relocated, regarding the specific agency and mission of that facility? 

On February 14, 2020, the Bangor Daily News first reported ICE’s decision to relocate their Enforcement and Removal Operations holding facility to Scarborough. According to the report, ICE intends to utilize the Scarborough facility to process, fingerprint, and detain people suspected of immigration violations.





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