Protestors and members of De-Ice Maine on March 5. The group wants residents aware of an ICE Facility that is in construction in Scarborough as well as to hold the property owner accountable. Courtesy photo Kelly Merrill

SCARBOROUGH — De-ICE Maine, a local coalition, wants to educate Scarborough residents on an ICE facility under construction on Manson Libby Road in Scarborough, see the Town Council condemn the facility and hold the property owners accountable.

The coalition gathered in protest at Monument Square in Portland on March 5 and again on March 12. The group is protesting an ICE, or Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, processing facility under construction at 40 Manson Libby Road in Scarborough.

Kelly Merrill, a member, said the coalition wants to see unanimous condemnation of the facility from the Scarborough Town Council.

“The Planning Board passed this,” De-ICE Maine members said. “Of course, they only had to ensure this complied with ordinance, but there hasn’t been any meaningful opportunity for public engagement that would be able to stop the facility. We’re working on it in all kinds of different aspects to get the word out and prevent local and state officials from cooperating with ICE.”

The property on 40 Manson Libby Road, Scarborough, at the corner of Washington Avenue, is undergoing construction with plans to be converted into an I.C.E. facility. Scarborough Town Council provided an update on the project on Feb. 17. Catherine Bart photo

The property owner, Maine Realty Advisors, has signed a 15-year lease with ICE, Merrill said. De-ICE Maine would like to see another agency in the building, which will be sharing space with a veteran’s center.

“We want to make it so uncomfortable, so that (ICE) leaves ultimately,” they said.

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The Scarborough Town Council passed an anti-racism resolution in October of 2020, and Merrill said it’s time for the council to “walk the walk” through a unanimous condemnation of the ICE facility.

“(ICE is) an organization that sows terror into the hearts of families and neighbors who are living here,” they said. “Some people who like to make a differentiation between the fact this is a processing facility versus a detention facility but it’s all part of the same system and the same pipeline.”

De-ICE Maine shared an article from the Bangor Daily News on March 9, which reported that the number of ICE detainees at the Cumberland County Jail has increased in 2016.

ICE announced it would open an office in Scarborough last year.

Resident Erin Rowan and Merrill spoke in the public comments portion of the Town Council’s March 3 meeting.

Rowan asked that the council make public any discussions on the facility.

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“I feel like as momentum builds, you guys have probably even more opportunities to see what you can do as a council to resist the ICE presence in Scarborough,” she said.

The council hadn’t had any private discussions about the ICE facility’s construction as of March 3, said Council Chair Paul Johnson. It can be hard to take on national politics at the local level, he said.

“My biggest concern with it is frankly not so much about the facility but what the message would send to the people who live in Scarborough,” he said. “I want people who are here to feel safe and welcome here. Whether you agree with ICE or you don’t agree with ICE or what have you, forget about the national politics about it. I just want people who live in Scarborough to feel like they belong in Scarborough and they’re safe in Scarborough. That’s what I hope our energy is on.”

There are other actions, like ordinance changes, that the council can take to prevent other facilities like this from being built in town, he said.

The Town Council provided an update and public hearing on the issue during a February meeting.

On March 3, the ACLU of Maine announced that the organization, Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project and the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Maine School of Law are pursuing a lawsuit for information.

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“The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit comes as ICE proceeds with plans to open a new facility in Scarborough, with little transparency and consultation of local representatives and residents,” said an ACLU press release.

Emma Bond, legal director of the ACLU of Maine, commented in the release on this lawsuit.

“ICE is a secretive and lawless agency,” Bond said. “It evades accountability by operating in the shadows. This lawsuit is necessary to cast light on its activities. When we know what ICE is doing, we can resist its abuses.”

To contact De-ICE Maine, email [email protected]

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