More than 100 ICE detainees being held at Al Cannon Detention Center; local activists speak out

Charleston County News

NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Immigration authorities launched nationwide immigration raids over the weekend. The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is targeting thousands of migrant families who have court orders to be removed.

According to ICE officials, the Al Cannon Detention Center in North Charleston is staging center to temporarily hold ICE detainees. As of June 3, the average daily population of ICE detainees at the Al Cannon Detention Center was 128 persons for Fiscal Year 2019.

Bryan Cox, Southern Region Communications Director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said: “In response to a surge in border arrivals last year, in 2018 ICE began using the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston as a staging center to temporarily hold persons awaiting an initial hearing. Following that initial hearing, persons temporarily held at this location for that purpose are transferred to an ICE detention center in furtherance of their immigration proceedings.”

According to Al Cannon’s online inmate database, ICE arrested several undocumented immigrants over the weekend.

In response to the raids, local Mexican-American resident, Omar Valencia, is speaking out— saying he’s scared for his loved ones.

“It especially makes me scared for families that I know,” he said. “I have heard story after story of people being deported from either ICE raids happening at their job or being deported from a checkpoint when they were just going home from work.”

For Valencia, knowing that migrants are being held as ICE detainees in his own backyard at Al Cannon Detention Center, is upsetting. So, now he’s banding with other activists in the Lowcountry like Fernando Soto, a Mexican-American U.S. citizen, to advocate for the undocumented.

“It really needs to resonate with each and every single person, because we all have a family, and none of us would like to be in that situation that these asylum seekers are in right now,” said Soto.

For the more than a hundred undocumented immigrants at the Al Cannon Detention Center, ICE officials say they pay Charleston County $55 per day, per person for its housing of ICE detainees.

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