Byline: By Christina Vinson
Subtitle: Laredo, Texas
For the employees at CCA Laredo Processing Center in Laredo, Texas, working together is like being with a close-knit family.
Julio Chapa, chief of security, said that the family-oriented atmosphere at Laredo is the most unique part of the facility. “We treat every staff member as a family member,” he said. “Many visitors who visit the facility have expressed that it is a warm place to come into.”
The staff doesn’t simply talk about being family; they act like it. Whenever one of the staff members is going through a personal crisis, Chapa said, they stick together and help in any way possible. Whether you lose a family member, need time to spend with family members, or attend college in addition to work, the Laredo staff is taken care of in every way possible.
Mary Moreno, administrative clerk, said that a staff member broke his arm, and the team rose to the occasion. They assisted him by raising money, as he is the only provider in his home. They helped with groceries, bills, and medical bills.
Additionally, employees are given opportunities to grow professionally, and they’re encouraged to rise to their fullest potential.
Chapa has been at the facility for 17 years, and he said, “It’s been very rewarding for me; I started fresh out of college at 21, and I started from the lower ranks. Thank God everything went well and now I’m chief of security.”
He added, “CCA has given me a lot through all these years …that’s why we say the Laredo Processing Center is our second home.”
The facility opened in 1985 and has had an intergovernmental agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2005. It’s located 10 minutes away from the U.S.-Mexico border, and it’s adjacent to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
If you’ve never been to Laredo, Chapa described it as having very flat and plain terrain with extremely hot weather. “It’s only cold one month of the year with snow every 30 years,” he laughed. “Though many think of the Rio Grande as a massive water force, he said that it’s a very small stream of water — and when there’s a drought, you can walk from the U.S. to Mexico without getting wet.”
The Laredo area is home to import and export businesses, cattle ranching, and law enforcement. “Whenever we need any type of assistance, we have backup very quickly, from Department of Public Safety, Laredo Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, ICE detainees, Border Patrol and more.”
The facility is highly involved in the community. According to Susie Peña, Human Resources manager, they work with job fairs, chamber of commerce, career day at local elementary schools, are part of the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee in the local college and are part of the advisory committee for the Kaplan College (Brighton College). The family-oriented nature of this facility also does much good for others less fortunate. They donate shoes and tennis shoes for back-to-school time, donate Christmas gifts to the less fortunate at local elementary schools, and participate in the Red Ribbon Drug Free Awareness Parade. In addition, they have several employees involved in additional community volunteer work.
Laredo’s facility may be small, but as evidenced by the staff’s care for the community and one another, it has a huge heart.
“Whenever we have outside visitors or auditors, they give kudos to Warden Diaz,” Chapa said. “Anyone coming in can expect to be greeted with a smile and a handshake from the staff.
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