The Justice Department yesterday announced plans to move all Cuban refugees who have not been resettled, except for criminals being detained in federal prisons, to a former Air Force base near Glasgow, Mont., near the Canadian border.
Art Brill, a spokesman for Justice, said the move will involve 535 Cubans who are now being detained in various facilities around the country.
Most now are at Fort Chafee, Ark., where 400 are housed, and in St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where 65 are being detained.
He said most have not been resettled because of mental and behavioral problems. The Department of Health and Human Services will work with the Justice Department to provide physical and mental health care, along with language and job training at the Glasgow detention center in the hope they will eventually be resettled.
Brill said the move is scheduled to begin in late January and be completed by late February, with a total cost in the 1982 fiscal year of between $25 million and $30 million.
Plans by the department to open a detention facility for Haitians and Cubans at Fort Drum in northern New York have been dropped at least temporarily because of a decline in the number of Haitians entering Florida illegally since the administration began turning back the refugees at sea.
The overcrowding in Haitian detention camps has also been eased by the decisions of more than 100 of the Haitians to return voluntarily to their native country.
But Brill said that Fort Drum is being kept open as an option should there be another influx of refugees.
Both Glasgow and Fort Drum have been criticized by lawyers and advocacy groups representing the Haitian and Cuban refugees.
Ira Kurzban, a Miami attorney who has brought class-action suits on behalf of the Haitians, has called Glasgow "the closest thing we have in the United States to Siberia."