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They reject this law that favored migrants

New Mexico lawmakers on Tuesday rejected a proposal to bar state and local government agencies from making deals with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to detain migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

The initiative was defeated in a vote of 17-21 in the state Senate. It would also have phased out local government involvement in tripartite agreements with private detention facilities and federal authorities.

The bill had implications for three private detention centers in the state, and would have virtually ended immigration detention by 2025 at the privately operated Otero County Processing Center in the town of Chaparral, in southeastern New Mexico, just outside of El Paso, Texas.

Legislatures in Colorado and New York are considering similar initiatives that would restrict local government contracts with federal immigration authorities or with private contractors through intergovernmental service agreements.

Promoters of the initiative in New Mexico highlighted reports of prison-like disciplinary measures, poor hygiene and suicide attempts in immigration detention facilities, urging lawmakers to take action on humanitarian grounds.

“We are talking about those immigrants who have come to the country in accordance with our laws and applied for asylum,” said Democratic Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, a co-sponsor of the bill. “We have found that many of them…are being detained in conditions that are far from adequate.”

During the debate, the Republican senators downplayed the harshness of living conditions at the Otero County immigration detention center, operated by the Utah-based Management & Training Corporation, noting that ending the government contract would be a heavy financial blow to the community.

Republican state Sen. Ron Griggs, whose district includes the Otero County Processing Center, said Otero County borrowed money to build the facility in 2007, hoping to pay off the bonds in the long run and create a lasting source of revenue to support public services.

He said the bill was a “direct attack on facilities in some of our poorest rural areas.”

Typically, the Otero County Processing Center receives about 600 migrants of both sexes.

Five Democratic senators joined Republicans in voting against the bill. Four other Democratic senators were absent from the vote.

Griggs also argued that a ban on local detentions in New Mexico would not necessarily improve conditions for migrants who end up in detention centers in other states waiting for their asylum claims to be processed.

Jazmin Irazoqui-Ruiz, an attorney with the advocacy group New Mexico Immigration Law Center, disputed that claim, saying migrants could be released on cost considerations in order to temporarily live with relatives or another sponsor, or be transferred to states. like Colorado, which take a different stance when funding legal representation for indigent immigrants.

In recent years, California, Illinois, and New Jersey have enacted measures to control immigration detention centers in their territories.