With room full of opposition, commission affirms support for ICE center

Evanston attorney Dean Stout tells Uinta County Commissioners he “100%” supports the proposal to build an ICE detention facility in Evanston. Stout was the sole person to speak in favor of the proposal at the Tuesday, Nov. 19 regular commission meeting. HERALD PHOTO/Sheila McGuire

EVANSTON — Uinta County Commissioners again heard from opponents of the proposal to locate an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Evanston during the regular commission meeting Tuesday, Nov. 19, when commissioners unanimously passed a measure of support for the proposal.

Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas explained the resolution was non-binding and was being approved to replace a prior resolution that had been passed in 2017, when the company pursuing the proposal was Management and Training Corporation (MTC). Now that MTC is no longer responding to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued by the federal government, a new resolution was needed to express support specifically for CoreCivic, the company that may now be responding to the RFP.

Following Howieson-Kallas’s comments, given the full commission chambers and number of people who wished to speak on the matter, commission chair Eric South said speakers would be limited to three minutes each; however, most of the speakers exceeded that time limit.

Many of the comments and concerns were similar to those expressed at the Oct. 15 commission meeting, including concerns about the impact a detention facility would have on future economic development and the Bear River State Park, whether the community had the workforce to support such a facility, the track record of CoreCivic and the ethics of an immigration detention center itself. 

Commissioner Welling said, “If the community isn’t dying, it’s subsiding,” and spoke of his large family of children and grandchildren, most of whom he said have left Evanston because of a lack of employment opportunities.

Referring to the potential liabilities of doing business with CoreCivic, Cimmissioner Anderson said there are liabilities with every company.

“If I did a search for Cabela’s and liabilities, I’m sure Cabela’s has been sued many times for all kinds of things,” he said.

The only person who went to the podium to speak in favor of the proposal was Evanston attorney Dean Stout, who said he is 100% for it. Stout said in the 20 years he has lived in the community, he has heard repeatedly about the need for diversification, but nothing ever comes of those conversations.

However, a public meeting with representatives from CoreCivic and Municipal Capital Markets Group (the financial group pursuing the proposal, which may be purchasing land from the county for facility construction) has been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2, in the Roundhouse’s Portland Rose Room.

Howieson-Kallas said binding decisions regarding the proposal would likely occur in early December following that meeting, which is scheduled for the night before the next regular commission meeting at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

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