INS leases office space in Carbondale
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has made a commitment to lease office space in Carbondale, despite protests by midvalley Latinos against such an office.
The INS said recently it will lease the former Columbia Savings building on the corner of Main Street and Hendrick Drive in the Crystal Village subdivision.
The Quick Response Team office will house two holding rooms for male and female detainees. The focus of the team of about five agents will be “to respond to requests for assistance from local police and sheriffs for smuggled loads [of illegal aliens] encountered on the highways,” said INS supervisor Kate Malapanes, who works out of the Grand Junction office of the INS.
Vanloads of illegal aliens routinely stopped near Glenwood Springs on Interstate 70 are many times let go because of a lack of space in the Garfield County Jail and the inability of the INS to transport the illegals to their detention center in Denver.
The new office will change all that, federal officials say.
“We’re hoping to occupy it in the spring,” Malapanes said. The town of Carbondale recently received an application for a building permit for the INS office. The building will need extensive remodeling since the holding rooms must be constructed with concrete blocks to meet security requirements.
Malapanas said illegal aliens detained at the Carbondale office will not be held overnight, but up to 10 hours, until they can be transported to Denver.
A trio of Carbondale women protested the move last week to the Town Council. “It’s a jail in my neighborhood,” said Felicia Trevor, director of the Stepstone Foundation. “It’s an inappropriate use of a residential neighborhood.”
Trevor also expects more harassment of Latinos, legal and illegal, in the valley. “They will harass people just by how they look,” she said. “Many people will leave, and if they don’t, they’ll be living in a lot more fear.”
Trevor and Kathy Goudy, director of Roaring Fork Legal Services, said they are trying to make Crystal Village residents aware of the impending move.
The women do not have direct recourse to the town board since it is not a planning matter. But they do have the option to appeal the approval of the building permit to the Board of Adjustments. That board can deny the building permit and effectively block the INS move.
Zoning of the building, which is part of the Crystal Village planned unit development, allows offices, medical clinics, galleries, libraries, a wide variety of shops, research facilities, warehouses, manufacturing plants – and public buildings.
According to town building official Bentley Henderson, the last category would allow the INS office. What is unclear is whether or not the holding rooms would constitute a jail. Nevertheless, the two holding rooms have not raised a red flag with Henderson.
“The holding part is accessory use,” he said. If, for example, the sheriff requested the town to add a holding room to the police department offices at Town Hall, that also would be considered an accessory use.
Henderson also pointed out the holding rooms are less than 10 percent of the entire building, but could constitute 90 percent of its use.
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