An email between Immigration Customs Enforcement and Department of Homeland Security shows a more in-depth look at an ICE detainment facility in Wichita Kansas
Protesters occupied the main intersection in front of the shopping center where the facility is located
An email between ICE and DHS states that the building has four holding cells and a video courtroom
Representative Gail Finney and Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau have requested a tour of the facility
Last week, a group of protesters received national attention after occupying the main intersection in front of a shopping center that hides a detainment center used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
At first glance, one would not be able to tell there is an ICE detainment center within the shopping center. The building located at 555 N Woodlawn appears unmarked aside from a translucent ICE decal on a glass door. One sign reads “immigration hours” and the other informs that no bonds will be processed after 2:30 pm. The building is connected to an IRS building.
The ICE building has clearly been remodeled to fit the needs of the federal agency and is hidden by current businesses such as restaurants, a hardware store, and a gym. Oddly enough, gubernatorial candidate Kris Kobach’s Wichita field office is located in the building directly in south of the detainment center. Kobach is known for helping create some of President Donald Trump’s stricter immigration policies.
On the backside of the ICE detainment center is a highly secured area for employees. Cameras run along a fence surrounding the backside of the property. A keycard controls a gate for vehicles. An add-on to the building with two garages doors on the north and south side appears to be an area used to drop off immigrants in custody. Trying to go into the building immediately leads you to another locked door with an intercom.
Many have claimed the building is nothing more than office space, which confuses many due to the high security and apparent add-ons to the building. Others find it concerning that no city or state officials have been allowed inside the building or know precisely what transpires within.
ICE moved to the building in 2013. According to an article from the Wichita Eagle, the building is used for office space but also has holding cells. In the article, ICE officials claim there are no beds located in the holding cells for overnight stays. The landlord of the area, Jeff Greenberg laughed as he told the Eagle the building is a “travel agency”.
“They said that the best way to describe what they do is that they’re a travel agency,” Greenberg says with a laugh. “They investigate, find the customer and send them on their way.”
An email between ICE and the Department of Homeland Security regarding the Eagle’s article gives a more in-depth look into the facility. The email reads as follows.
Issue: A reporter for the Wichita (Kansas) Eagle newspaper asked a series of questions concerning the relocation of an ICE office in Wichita, Kan. PAO has prepared responses below. (The GSA PAO prefers that ICE address these questions.)
Proposed response: (to be issued when cleared by approving authority) Cleared by ERO Chicago I intend to send the reporter the below responses to her questions and a fact sheet which we have previously used for similar questions about this new office.
The email claims that 80% of the building is used for offices and “about 2,500 square feet (20% of the space) will be used as a processing area, which includes a video courtroom and four temporary secure rooms (holding cells) for processing aliens — taking photos, fingerprinting, etc.”
The response claims the four holding cells are used to hold immigrants for under 12 hours, usually between 2-3 hours before they are transported to a county jail before deportation.
The building was picked by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which is responsible for leasing buildings for government space. The GSA picked the Woodlawn location based off of various factors “such as zoning, most effective cost, and the needs of the agency.”
Court dates, holding cells, and the processing center in general raise concerns for residents in Wichita. On Friday, protesters held a press conference with Representative Gail Finney and Senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau to request a non-partisan tour of the facility to ensure those within the building are receiving proper treatment. Faust-Goudeau was denied a tour of the facility and told she must contact the ICE’s public relations officer.