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Courts and Crime

ICE Plans To Open Scarborough Facility To Hold People Accused Of Immigration Violations

Maine Realty Advisors via BDN
ICE has plans to operate a detention center out of an office building at 40 Manson Libby Road.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, plans to open a facility to hold people suspected of immigration violations in an industrial building in Scarborough, according to an email obtained by the Bangor Daily News.

ICE would share the building at 40 Manson Libby Road with a marketing firm and a federal veterans health agency that has signed a lease to relocate there. ICE’s use of the building was referred to in a December email obtained late Thursday under the Freedom of Information Act.

“[T]his space will be lowkey and not brightly advertised as an ICE location,” Alisha Wofford, a leasing specialist with the U.S. General Services Administration, said in an email to other government officials. GSA is an agency that builds, manages and leases real estate for the federal government.

The email was heavily redacted, but the full version said ICE authorities will process, fingerprint and detain people suspected of immigration violations there. People apprehended by ICE agents could be kept in onsite holding rooms for hours but would be transported in unmarked vans to an overnight detention facility elsewhere, if necessary, according to the email.

A source who requested anonymity for fear of retribution provided the unredacted email to the BDN in which Wofford described the holding facility as similar to a “police station” — not a “jail.” Wofford said it would not have steel bars. It was not clear when it was expected to begin operating.

She added that ICE’s operations are not expected to “trigger any of the visiting veterans” who would come to the neighboring health agency for treatment.

“You should not have to worry about ICE having any negative impact on the vet center,” she told health agency staff in her Dec. 3 email.

The news comes four months after ICE faced protests following an announcement that it would open an administrative office in Portland’s Monument Square. ICE has no other holding facilities in Maine. The nearest Enforcement and Removal Operations field office is in Boston, according to the agency’s website.

The facility also comes as ICE has arrested more people nationwide. The agency said it apprehended more than 1.1 million people in 2019, an increase of more than 68 percent from the previous fiscal year.

ICE did not immediately respond to an inquiry about the number of people apprehended in Maine during that time. A spokesperson for the agency declined to comment on the facility.

The Scarborough industrial building is owned by Maine Realty Advisors. Principal Josh Soley said that his firm offered the space for the government’s use by bidding on a contract from the Department of Homeland Security via an online system. ICE is part of the Department of Homeland Security, which was seeking leasable space in New England.

He said that he told tenants in the building that a Department of Homeland Security agency could locate operations there.

Maine Realty Advisors owns real estate and manages properties throughout the state. It announced in January it would be converting a 200-year-old former monastery in Portland into low-income housing for asylum seekers.

This story appears through a media sharing agreement with Bangor Daily News.