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Posted 3/14/2016

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By Elizabeth Lockyear
Albuquerque District public affairs

EL PASO, Texas -- Deputy District Commander Maj. Jason Melchior participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open a new 80,000 square-foot facility for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Fort Bliss property here, Feb. 24, 2016.

ICE Director Sarah Saldaña was a special guest at the event.

As part of a congressional mandate to consolidate offices, the Albuquerque District, in support of the Fort Worth District, built the facility. Previously ICE employees were spread across the city in four General Services Administration (GSA)-leased facilities. 

Now the offices of Homeland Security Investigations; the Office of Professional Legal Advice; the Enforcement and Removal Operations office and the Office of the Chief Information Officer are consolidated into the largest, co-located ICE facility in the nation, according to Maryellen Brady, Deputy Program Director with ICE.

The new facility not only saves taxpayers money, but is energy efficient too. The contractors anticipate it will achieve Leadership in Energy Environment Design (LEED) Gold certification.

During the ceremony, Melchior took a few minutes to recognize a few District employees who were instrumental in getting the facility to the ribbon-cutting stage.

Kamal Otman, civil engineer, and Art Aranda, construction control inspector, both from the District’s El Paso Resident Office, handled the onsite contract administration and quality assurance inspection for the entire contract.  

Originally awarded at a contract value of approximately $15.8 million, it increased to $24.1 million, primarily due to a 33 percent increase in the building footprint size and the incorporation of the necessary changes. Civil engineer Karla Benitez, also in the District’s El Paso office, handled and coordinated the completion of all the changes that came with the increase in the building’s size. 

Otman also had an instrumental role as the primary point of contact for all the contractors and customers. He coordinated multiple contractors, subcontractors, and ICE furniture subcontractors, working hard through the December holidays, to meet the contract completion date, and scheduled move-in date. 

The scheduled contract completion date of Jan. 22, 2016, was met and ICE was able to start moving-in to their new facility on February 1. 

Melchior also recognized Ray Macias and Jeff Firebaugh for their hard work and effort to get the project finished. Macias is the District’s Resident Engineer and Administrative Contracting Officer in El Paso. Firebaugh was the District’s project manager for the facility and is also the chief of the District’s Environmental and SRM Section. As project manager, he was responsible for the design and coordination with ICE.

“The partnership we have had with ICE over the past six plus years has been very fruitful for the Albuquerque and Fort Worth districts. We continue to support this very important customer on their future projects in the El Paso area. We are very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with our federal partners in completing this very important project and mission in the desert,” said Firebaugh.

ice Immigration and Customs Enforcement Leadership in Energy Environment Design Ribbon-Cutting