GROESBECK (July 15, 2013)—Limestone County officials were trying to figure out Monday how to keep the facility open and the center’s 130 workers on the job.
The company that operates the county-owned detention center furloughed 200 employees. (Photo by John Carroll)
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement decided to stop sending suspected illegal immigrants detained at the border to the center, opting instead to return them to their home countries, Limestone County Judge Daniel Burkeen said.
As a result, the last prisoners were removed Friday from the privately-run Limestone County Detention Center, whose employees told Monday they could pick up their final paychecks on Tuesday.
Earlier information indicated the center had as many as 200 employees, but the Utah-based company that took over operation of the 1,000 bed county-owned facility last month said Monday the loss of the prisoners affected 130 workers.
Management Training Corporation, which under an agreement with the county was supposed to pay a minimum of $62,500 a month to rent the complex, said Monday it’s closing the center and pulling out.
“It’s very unfortunate that you know, immigration customs enforcement decided to pull the detainees from the facility, but having done that, that leaves us with no one to operate, so we had to lay off 130 employees and essentially discontinue the contract,” an MTC spokesman said Monday.
Earlier Monday Burkeen said he understood that the company was working to try to line up another source of prisoners and said the county was considering reducing the rent it charged the company.
The payments from MTC account for about 5 percent of the county’s annual budget and the loss of revenue could impact the new budget officials are now drafting, Burkeen said.
Until May 31, the detention center was operated by Community Education Centers or CEC, which pulled out after losing its contract with the federal government to house inmates.