Federal government considering site in Kelso to detain immigrants


DESHA COUNTY, Ark. (KATV) -- In southeast Arkansas, the federal government is considering housing immigrants who are caught crossing the border illegally.

Congressman Rick Crawford confirmed the news via Twitter Thursday afternoon about a site in Kelso to possibly serve as an immigrant detainment center.

That site, just minutes away from Rowher, where thousands of Japanese-Americans were detained during World War II. Locals in the area, no matter what end of the political spectrum they're on, agree that it would be inhumane to hold people at the site in Kelso.

Just off Highway 138 sits Kelso Worksite One. It's a fish experiment site operated by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, and it could possibly become a detainment center. Locals not only agree the idea is inhumane, but they say that the farmland the site sits on is not fit to house a detainment camp.

"It's at the bottom of a water shed. [With] a rapid rainfall event, it'll have a puddle of water that'll stay there for 24 hours. It would be inhumane," long-time resident Andrew Wargo says.

The prospect of Kelso Worksite One becoming a campsite, eerily parallels with the Rowher internment camp that held thousands of Japanese-Americans in World War II.

"This is not a good idea. This is not the way you want to treat a family," District 11's state representative Mark McElroy says. "I know there's a problem with illegal immigration. But it's sad, people on death row actually have better facilities than these people will. Treat your neighbors like you'd like to be treated. Living in tents in southeast Arkansas in summertime is not a fun place to be."

As for the site in Kelso, KATV is still working to confirm with the Department of Health and Human Services if it would be exclusively for children of undocumented immigrants, or if the so-called "tent city" would house families.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that he's opposed to the federal government using any facilities in the state to house migrant children.

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