SW waterfront neighbors against immigration facility

SW waterfront neighbors against immigration facility

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by Randy Neves and KGW.com

kgw.com

Posted on January 19, 2011 at 9:20 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 20 at 2:06 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- South Waterfront neighbors are fighting a proposed federal immigration building in their backyard.

Wednesday, those neighbors asked Portland City Commissioners for help blocking the proposal. City hall was packed with critics of the U.S. Government's plan to put an immigration office building on the corner of SW Bancroft and SW Macadam.

They say the immigration building is more akin to a jail than an office building.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement -or ICE- wants to renovate and expand the building to help consolidate resources throughout the city. Partially because a charter school is nearby, residents of the new neighborhood are worried about the potential of criminal detainees in their midst.

"It does not feel comfortable to me," testified Krista Rodriguez, a mother and busines owner in the neighborhood. "It does not feel safe. Our children are outside in the environment, in the neighborhood every single day."

"South Waterfront, in my mind, is probably the most fragile of our neighborhoods," said James Davis, neighborhood leader.

Attorneys for the federal government assured city leaders this would not be a jail. They say it wouldn't detain anyone under investigation for immigration crimes longer than 12 hours before they're moved onto other facilities out of state.

City Commissioners have not yet signaled which way they'll vote on this issue. The public record will remain open. Expect a decision mid-February.

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