SALT LAKE CITY | A new detention facility for immigrants behind bars in Utah could be built in Wyoming, a plan that is triggering backlash from immigration attorneys who say the long drive would make it difficult to visit clients.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin requesting proposals later this month for a 250-500 bed facility that it prefers be within 90 miles (145 kilometers) of the Salt Lake City area, according to a notice posted last week.
That radius would include Evanston, Wyoming, where Utah-based Management and Training Corporation plans to submit a proposal for a facility, company spokeswoman Issa Arnita said. She said the company plans to partner with Uinta County officials in Wyoming on the proposal, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Wednesday.
Evanston is a city of about 20,000 people right across the Utah-Wyoming line, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) northeast of Salt Lake City.
Immigration attorneys in Utah say they are worried that building the facility in Wyoming would make it more difficult for families and lawyers to visit people who are detained.
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The radius for the facility is smaller than when ICE first began discussions two years ago and said it would consider proposals within 180 miles (290 kilometers) of Salt Lake City. The agency said it is refining its strategy.
There is no firm timeline to choose a company and location, and a decision would be made sometime after a "thorough review" of the proposals, ICE spokeswoman Alethea Smock said.
ICE began moving people last year to places like Nevada and Colorado after Utah County ended its contract to hold immigration detainees in its jail.
A group of people protested the company's role in immigration detention last year by chaining themselves to the company's headquarters in Centerville, Utah. Eight people were arrested.
The company said at the time that it is only a contractor for ICE and doesn't play a role in policies.