U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree asked the Trump administration Monday to delay opening an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Scarborough until town residents have an opportunity to weigh in on the plan.

Pingree, a Democrat who represents Maine’s 1st District, made her request in a letter to Emily Murphy, head of the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C.

“There is some concern that ICE presence and activities at the site will negatively impact the immediate area, including the businesses co-located at the site, their patrons and local residents,” Pingree wrote.

In February, the Press Herald reported that immigration agents tasked with finding, detaining and deporting illegal immigrants planned to open an office at 40 Manson Libby Road in Scarborough. The office would be shared with a Veteran’s Administration group that provides therapy and support to veterans in southern Maine, raising concerns that the shared location is a mismatch of missions.

In her letter to Murphy, Pingree said she understood that ICE must move because its lease is ending for its office on Gannett Drive in South Portland, which it shares with a branch of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

However, Pingree noted, Scarborough residents and others who would be affected by ICE’s move only learned about the plan through recent news reports. She said other agencies and businesses located near the office building are rightly concerned about ICE’s lack of transparency.


“This is the second ICE (location) in my district that has caused a significant public response, in part because the processes were both perceived as secretive,” Pingree wrote. “I understand that GSA does not normally take public comment when moving a federal facility, however, the outcry is indicative of serious and growing mistrust of this particular agency.”

Pingree was referring to a different ICE office that opened last fall in One City Center in Portland and prompted a series of protests in Monument Square criticizing the agency’s detention of immigrants.

Pingree said she also received complaints from veterans who are concerned that the new ICE facility would be located next to the Portland Vet Center, which is currently on Stevens Avenue in Portland’s Deering Center neighborhood.

“I share their concerns that the presence of the ICE facility could deter non-citizen veterans from seeking medical treatment at the Vet Center,” Pingree wrote, “and that the presence of detained individuals at or transiting to the ICE facility could be harmful to veterans diagnosed with trauma-induced mental health disorders.”

Pingree said she acted after receiving a letter from state Sens. Rebecca Millett and Linda Sanborn, and state Reps. Shawn Babine, Chris Caiazzo and Andrew McLean. They shared concerns about the lack of community engagement in the facility selection process and the impact it could have on other entities located in the business park.

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