New INS office lacks one thing – an office |

New INS office lacks one thing – an office

Tim Mutrie

The Immigration and Naturalization Service will not open its new office in Glenwood Springs this month as planned – because the agency can’t find an office.

At the earliest, the new INS office will open in mid-October, but it’s likely to be even later, according to Mike Comfort, the agency’s deputy district director.

“The building in Glenwood Springs that we had identified and had been working on negotiating a lease was rented to someone else,” Comfort said. “So we’re back to square one.”

Further complicating things for the INS is a lack of available office space in general in Glenwood Springs.

“Our latest surveys show that there is no space in the Glenwood Springs area, so we’re looking in the surrounding area,” he said. That search has included New Castle and communities farther west along the I-70 corridor.

“There’s no strict geographic limit for the office, but we need it to be as far east, or as close to Glenwood Springs as possible,” Comfort said. “Our goal is to be in Glenwood, but if there’s no space, there’s nothing we can do about that.”

Comfort said the agency will consider moving into a temporary space, if necessary.

“We were hoping Glenwood Springs would be one of the first offices in this district to open,” he said. “We may be able to find some temporary space, but we have not found anything like

that either yet, much to our chagrin.”

Comfort said even when a property is secured to house the Glenwood INS office – be it temporary or permanent – it will not be immediately available for use. Renovations, like the construction of holding cells, will be necessary, he said.

The planned Glenwood Springs office is among eight new INS offices expected to open around Colorado this fall, and among 40 new offices across the country. Like the other new offices, the Glenwood office will be staffed with three special agents and two detention officers.

At a July community meeting in Carbondale, INS officials outlined five priorities for their new Glenwood office. Apprehending criminal aliens, wanted for aggravated felonies or “crimes of moral turpitude,” is the agency’s top priority, agents said.

Other targets are smugglers – people in the business of transporting illegal aliens into and around the country; and fraud – the making and selling of falsified documents such as Social Security cards and green cards.

Rounding out the agency’s list of priorities is identifying area employers who knowingly hire persons who are not authorized to work in the country, and, finally, responding to community concerns as they relate to immigration laws, agents explained.

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