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ARTESIA (AP) — Residents in southeastern New Mexico crowded a town hall meeting Tuesday to express anger at the opening of a temporary detention center for immigrants suspected of entering the country illegally.
Around 400 people attended the meeting in Artesia to speak out against holding up to 700 Central American women and children at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Currently, less than 200 people are at the center.
City and federal officials fielded questions from residents, including how long the facility would be used for detention.
Residents told federal and local authorities they were afraid the immigrants might take jobs from locals and resources away from American-born children.
“Yes, we need to provide (to) those, for the women and children,” resident Ginger Kelly told KOAT-TV.
“But I also think ... our government needs to look at our own kids.”
Kelly said some area residents are struggling with hunger and a lack of health insurance.
Only a handful of residents spoke out in favor of helping immigrants.
“Basically, we have to treat people the way most people are intended to be treated,” said Anthony Morales, who spoke at the town hall.
Last month, the Obama administration announced plans to convert the training center into one of several temporary sites being established to deal with the influx of women and children from Central America.
Some have said they are fleeing gang violence and poverty in their home countries.