Wyatt board, bondholders continue negotiations over ICE dispute

News

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — The board that oversees the Wyatt Detention Facility is being sued by the facility’s bondholders over the board’s recent vote to relocate 133 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees who had been moved to the federal prison a month prior.

Members of the public were invited to a meeting held Wednesday morning by the board of the Central Falls Detention Facility Corporation but no public input was given.

Shortly after the meeting began, board members went into executive session. They returned to the public meeting room about an hour later but could not disclose much information, citing concerns over jeopardizing ongoing litigation between the board and the bondholders.

Board of Directors Chairman Joseph Molina Flynn said the votes the board made in executive session were necessary to allow litigation to move forward and that they were hopeful a settlement could be reached at some point with the bondholders.

The lawsuit was filed after the board voted earlier this month to temporarily suspend Wyatt’s contract with ICE and ask that all detainees be removed. According to a complaint, the bondholders claim the move cost them $130 million.

When asked if any of the ICE detainees were still at the facility following the board’s vote, Flynn replied, “I believe there are none. I believe the last group of them left earlier this week.” He did not know where the detainees were being held now. 

According to court documents, the federal government – through ICE – had requested to use 225 beds at Wyatt earlier this year but Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said his administration never approved the contract. Diossa is also listed as a defendant in the bondholders’ lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court.

The suit seeks to put Wyatt in a receivership “to protect against the immediate and irreparable harm” to the facility’s assets. Should that happen, the facility would then be politically independent of the town and ensure that its day-to-day operations continue as normal, despite the contract suspension.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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