We appreciate the opportunity to provide a timeline of the events related to the Department of Homeland Security identifying a potential congregate housing facility in Carlsbad that could some day serve as a temporary processing center for migrants. This update was also provided at Tuesday night’s council meeting and included in a recent update.
Several months ago, the City was informed by the facility operator that a privately owned, self-contained facility in Carlsbad had been identified as a potential location for temporarily housing migrant children ages 12-17 for processing prior to transfer to host families or a sponsor. We did not receive additional information about this for several months, and it appeared that this facility was no longer being considered.
In mid-August, the City was contacted by the operator, who informed us that the privately-owned facility was now under consideration to be used for family units for temporary housing for up to 72 hours and for processing before they moved on to their host families or sponsors. We were informed that this would be a self-contained facility – medical care, food services, cleaning and security would take place within the property.
Following this second conversation, we began to aggressively pursue information regarding our options. We began the process of communicating what information we had available, beginning with other local officials and government agencies. That’s when discussion about this issue first began to appear on social media.
We had not, and still have not, had any formal discussion with the federal government about this issue. We have also not entered into any agreements or contracts regarding such a facility. We have not been approached to enter into any agreement or contract regarding this facility. To the best of our understanding, there are no formal agreements involving other parties.
Online speculation is that Carlsbad is being considered for refugees as a consequence of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. We do not have any recent information on this issue – but in our prior conversation with the private operator, the discussion involved only asylum seekers from Central America. We do not even have a definitive answer as to whether the Carlsbad location is still under consideration.
In fact, while researching this issue this week, we were informed by a reliable source that multiple other locations around Eddy County and the region were also under potential consideration.
Personally, I have told the facility operator that I have very serious reservations about this type of processing facility being in Carlsbad. I share many of the same concerns that you all have expressed to us and over social media over the past week. We already have a high rate of COVID-19 in Eddy County right now. We have had the highest population growth in the state and our infrastructure often seems overwhelmed. We have more than enough on our hands as it is. Carlsbad is not a good location for this use of this private facility.
There does not appear to be anything the City can do to keep the Department of Homeland Security from siting such a facility in Carlsbad, if that is what it decides to do. If such a facility is ultimately located here, then we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our citizens and will pursue avenues to seek compensation for this significant impact on our municipal resources.
We also want to make certain that the City of Carlsbad and its residents have access to all available information, and a chance to voice their opinions.
Finally, it’s well known that Southeastern New Mexico is often outnumbered when it comes to politics. We have to fight tooth and nail to stick up for ourselves, and we also have to work together. As this issue continues to unfold, we are very committed to working together with other local government agencies, elected officials, and the public in looking out for our community.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway