ICE transfer facility at England Airpark to bring 150 jobs

Story Courtesy of the Town Talk
Written by: Jeff Mathews

A transfer center to house immigration detainees at England Airpark will add 150 jobs locally, officials announced Monday.

 The 400-bed center will house detainees waiting deportation. It is expected to cost $20 million to construct.

“Louisiana is doing its part to crack down on illegal immigration to the United States, and it is doing it significantly cheaper, too,” said U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “This investment will create 150 jobs for Alexandria and save the taxpayers money at the same time.”

Prison operator The GEO Group Inc. of Baco Raton, Fla., has a five-year agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to finance, develop and manage the facility. According to a company release, it is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2014.

“We appreciate the confidence placed in our company by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” said George Zoley, GEO Group chairman and chief executive officer. “This important project will play an important role in helping meet the need for federal detention bed space in the Southeastern United States. We look forward to providing high quality services at this new center in Alexandria under our long-standing public-private partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

ICE uses several Louisiana prisons to hold potential deportees — most of them from South and Central America and the Caribbean. Many of those detainees are moved through Alexandria International Airport.

Alexandria-area officials have been advocating for a processing and holding facility at the airpark as a means of creating jobs while saving time and transportation costs for ICE.

England Authority Executive Director Jon Grafton said the airpark is “the most effective and efficient location for this investment.”

“England Airpark is excited to welcome the GEO Group and the $20 million investment and 150 jobs in our community,” Grafton said. “GEO’s investment takes advantage of England’s great airfield infrastructure and continues England’s important role in serving the needs of our country.”