Immigration officers from across the country soon will head to Fort Benning to train at a compound that will be built to mimic urban areas, down to the toys, dishes and false passports that might be found in residences.
The training facility, which has yet to be constructed, could grow to 50 buildings, ranging in size from 400 square feet to 100,000 and cost upward of $17 million, according to government documents. The houses are to be “hyper-realistic,” and ought to contain things officers run into, such as false walls and drug labs.
The fake city will augment the training already going on at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility located on the military base.
Newsweek reported the location of the new training facility earlier Wednesday, before The Atlanta Journal-Constitution independently verified it.
Lindsay Williams, an ICE public affairs officer, told the AJC that the officers train in everything from hand-to-hand combat to undercover investigations. After graduating, they can serve in the agency’s special response teams.
Williams didn’t know when construction on the urban area would start. The buildings will be modular so that they can be joined to create bigger buildings, moved or reconfigured to represent various cities or areas.
Officers who attend the Fort Benning site must serve as field agents for three years to be considered for training and assigned to a special response team. ICE currently has 22 teams, each consisting of 16 to 18 graduates. Nearly 400 individuals have graduated from special response team training since it was created more than 15 years ago.
The federal government is also looking for a location in southwest metro Atlanta to build a facility that will hold up to 500 undocumented immigrant children, according to a government request for proposal.