SCARBOROUGH — With talk of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility opening in Scarborough, representatives of Maine as well as the town are seeking more information.

In an article published on Feb. 14, The Bangor Daily News reported that an ICE facility would share a building with a marketing firm and federal veterans health agency at 40 Mansion Libby Road.

In a letter to Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree asked that the facility be delayed until the public and “stakeholders have the opportunity to engage with GSA and ICE regarding the relocation of the existing ICE facility.”

In the letter, she noted the facility’s current lease in South Portland is ending.

Local state legislators are also concerned. “In a joint letter dated Feb. 21, 2020, Sens. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, and Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, and Reps. Shawn Babine, D-Scarborough, Chris Caiazzo, D-Scarborough, and Andrew McLean, D-Gorham, asked their federal counterparts to push for a transparent and public process as plans for the facility develop,” said a press release from the Maine Legislature Senate and House Democratic Offices.

“We ask that you please strongly encourage ICE to conduct public meetings in Scarborough, where ICE will have the opportunity to present its plans for this facility to the general public, and our constituents will have the opportunity to ask questions and get a better understanding of the impact this facility will have on our town,” said the lawmakers to Sen. Susan Collins, Sen. Angus King and Rep. Chellie Pingree.

During the Scarborough Town Council’s Feb. 19 meeting, Town Manager Tom Hall said that the first town elected officials had heard of the potential facility was in the Feb. 14 Bangor Daily News article.

“No one has come forward asking any questions, certainly, or sought any info or clarification from us,” he said. “It’s my understanding this facility is located in the Industrial Park, the Industrial Zone. The first order of business is that we look at what the zoning says. In that zone, among other allowed uses, there’s a use called ‘non-municipal government buildings or uses,’ which is extremely broad, I’ll admit. And so not knowing any particulars, it would appear that facility would fit fairly squarely within that permitted use. But we’d need to know more to make that definitive determination.”

He continued, “I will note that a couple of months ago the landlord contacted someone in the code office and had asked a very general question about the potential for erecting a fence around his building to accommodate the needs of a potential tenant. They will be required to get building permits and occupancy permits should they pursue this further. My hunch is there may be some federal preemption. We have nothing to react to at this point other than what we read in the paper.”

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina said that if any members of the public had concerns, they should raise them to federal officials, as Scarborough town officials could only enforce zoning ordinances and certificates of occupancy.

In a Facebook post on March 2, Caterina shared the Press Herald article about Pingree’s letter, saying, “Thank you to Representative Pingree. I have had multiple inquiries from constituents. All we are requesting is information regarding the potential use of this building.”

Councilor John Cloutier said that he understood the need to enforce illegal immigration laws but he also recognized the workforce crisis that Maine has been facing.

On Feb. 14, Caterina posted on Facebook, “I just received confirmation of the leasing of space for a potential ICE detention center in Scarborough. As the grand daughter of immigrants, and a person who believes in the expansion of legal immigration, I am offended by the choice of Scarborough for this facility, particularly given the actions of the current administration . Please know that the Town Manager is working to investigate whether or not this facility is allowed in that building zone. If, in fact, this use is allowed, the town has no recourse. In any event, I suggest reaching out to Representative Pingree and Senator King to express your concerns. Thank you and stay tuned.”

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