ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE) – Last week, Artesia was known for its booming oil and gas business and now it is making national headlines concerning undocumented immigrants.
Friday, Congressman Steve Pearce announced The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Artesia will soon be home to nearly 700 illegal immigrants.
So far this year, 47,000 undocumented children from drug-ridden Central America have crossed the border into the United States. According to the law, children from anywhere other than Canada or Mexico cannot be immediately deported; they have to be taken into U.S. Custody first.
Artesia residents have mixed reviews about the government’s plan to house the immigrants in the small town of about 15,000 people.
“It makes me very angry,” said Pat Tiedemann.
Jerry Ortega is on the other end of the spectrum.
“It don’t bother me one bit. They’re not hurting me here,” said Ortega.
Both Tiedemann and Ortega live in a neighborhood right next to where the immigrants will be housed.
“I know the border patrol agents are going to be very good baby sitters, but I don’t know there’s just so many unknowns,” said Tiedemann.
Artesia police said they are planning to increase patrols near the facility. Some people aren’t sure it’s necessary.
“You can’t judge a book by its cover,” said Ortega. “They might be nice kids, families that just need help.”
According to Representative Pearce, the federal government will run the operation. He said the facility will only house families and those who stop through will be deported back to their home country after about a week-long-stay in Artesia.
Pearce said the center will cycle families through for about a year.
The cost is unknown.