ICE official: Immigration crisis to blame for overcrowding outside Knoxville facility

Local News

The best way to describe the cul-de-sac at the end of Prosperity Drive in Cedar Bluff on Wednesdays is to compare it to outside a store, before a big doorbuster sale, on Black Friday. 

An employee of the cardiology office across the street reached out to the Department of Homeland Security with concerns, then WATE 6 On Your Side for answers. 

A spokesperson for Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed Wednesday the building is an ICE facility. He explained, in general, it’s for people who haven’t had their day in immigration court yet and have to report to ICE periodically to avoid being put in custody. 

It wasn’t too crowded outside the facility this Wednesday, but people nearby said it was mild compared to how packed it can get out there. 

They said some line up outside the facility, sometimes, before 7 a.m. Although there were plenty of parking spaces at that heart clinic across the street Wednesday, sometimes, those in the area said, some people park in those spots to get to their ICE appointment. Clinic staff said Wednesday that’s a problem because the spots are for patients, who are mostly senior citizens with heart problems. 

Bryan Cox, ICE Spokesperson, wrote Wednesday: “What you’re seeing there is reflected across the country due to the surge in family unit arrivals at the southwest border. Once they leave the border, they’re instructed to report to ICE at the local office where they’re going while their cases are ongoing.” 

On the Department of Homeland Security’s website, a release titled “Humanitarian and Security Crisis at Breaking Point,” cites more than 76,000 migrants illegally crossed into the U.S. and were apprehended or deemed inadmissible in February, which the agency calls a 12-year high. 

A staff member at the clinic across the street also posed the question in the DHS letter, why do these appointments in mass on Wednesday mornings, instead of spacing them out throughout the week? 

Cox said Wednesday, “We do. Certain days may have more persons than others, and that’s generally days we’re receiving cases from the border.”

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