Central Falls mayor, prison at odds over housing ICE detainees

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Central Falls mayor, prison at odds over housing ICE detainees

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — The mayor of Central Falls is frustrated with the Wyatt Detention Facility after learning the prison is once again housing people detained by federal immigration authorities.

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said he first heard about ICE’s presence in the city on March 10, which was when the detainees moved into Wyatt.

“I will not stand by this as the Wyatt attempts to profit from the exploitation of human misery and the separation of families,” Diossa said Thursday at an emergency meeting about the issue.

Documents reveal ICE has requested to use 225 beds at Wyatt, but Diossa said his administration never approved the contract the facility made with ICE. He claims he was never made aware of it.

“No, I never knew that they were bringing in inmates on this zero base tolerance initiative by Donald Trump,” Diossa said.

A spokesperson for Wyatt disputes Diossa’s claim, saying the corporation informed his administration that detainees would likely be sent to the facility by federal agencies.

“The Wyatt plays no role in the policies of the Trump Administration or ICE,” the spokesperson said. “We will continue to provide safe, secure, clean, and humanitarian conditions for our staff and the detainees sent to the Wyatt by our federal partner agencies.”

Formey Mayor and City Councilor Thomas Lazieh says while he doesn’t support Trump’s immigration policies, he does support Wyatt as a whole.

Lazieh said he was briefed on the situation by Wyatt last October.

“We were informed that negotiations are on route for ICE to come into the city,” Lazieh said.

Diossa says overall, he’s done supporting the facility.

“It hasn’t produced any revenue,” Diossa said. “We have ICE inmates that have been separated from the border. We had an escapee not too long ago. Enough is enough.”

Following Thursday’s meeting, dozens of people marched from City Hall to Wyatt, spreading their message that ICE detainees do not belong in the city.

The Rhode Island Immigrant Coalition expressed opposition to the housing of detainees at Wyatt and are calling for the revocation of the contract with ICE to detain the immigrants, providing detained immigrants immediate access to basic human rights and the permanent closure of Wyatt.

A spokesperson from ICE sent Eyewitness News a statement regarding the issue saying, “As with all ICE detention facilities, the Wyatt facility will comply with the agency’s rigorous detention standards.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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