ROCKFORD — An immigrant advocacy group is warning Winnebago County officials that jailing immigrant detainees for the federal government may cost taxpayers more than it’s worth.
Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana says that with portions of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center empty, opening closed jail pods to house immigrant detainees at the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could be a way to ensure detainees are housed humanely, and tap a lucrative revenue stream to benefit the cash-strapped Winnebago County criminal justice system.
But the National Immigrant Justice Center is urging Winnebago County officials to consider the potential increased liability, medical costs and insurance consequences before opening the local jail to immigrant detention.
“We stand starkly opposed to the use of correctional facilities such as the Winnebago County Jail to further a civil enforcement regime,” Heidi Altman of the National Immigrant Justice Center told Caruana, Chairman Frank Haney and the County Board in a May 12 letter.
“Entering into such an agreement would bring your county squarely to the forefront of a federal detention system that has repeatedly demonstrated its inability to provide for the basic health, safety and due process rights of those it detains. This letter, however, is intended to draw your attention specifically to the significant financial liability risks attendant to contracting with ICE for detention beds. In short, any projected revenue could quickly be wiped away by only one lawsuit.”
Under a Jan. 25 executive order…
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