EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – A split New Mexico Senate on Tuesday voted down a bill to ban state and local governments from housing detained migrants in public or private detention facilities beginning in 2025.
Two of those facilities – in Otero and Torrance counties – had been the target of mistreatment complaints and the site of alleged hunger strikes and suicide attempts over detainee conditions.
But on Tuesday, all Senate Republicans and a handful of Democrats voted against the bill sponsored by State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. The vote was 21 nays to 17 in favor.
“I thank my colleagues for voting against this bill that would have directly impacted my community,” State Sen. Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, said in a statement. “We have a state-of-the-art facility in Otero County that provides appropriate accommodations for those in custody and gainful employment for many of our citizens.”
State Sen. Ron Griggs, R-Alamogordo, said state facilities are a better option than temporary facilities once Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention space runs out or becomes overcrowded.
“When the ICE alternative to using facilities like ours is housing detainees in makeshift tents, I think even the advocates for this legislation would see our county’s detention facility as a necessity,” Griggs said. “Keeping this facility open is best for both our county and those it houses.”
Migrant advocacy organizations for several years now have called for improved conditions at ICE detention facilities and subcontracted facilities. Some are even calling for abolishing migrant detention altogether except in the case of those with a criminal record.