Md. county finalizes $1.7M agreement to house ICE detainees
The agreement is one of two programs the county has entered into with federal immigration officials
By Chase Cook
The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
Starting Oct. 30, Anne Arundel County will profit off the detention of alleged immigration violators at two long-vacant dormitory sections of a Glen Burnie jailhouse to house ICE detainees.
The intergovernmental service agreement between the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Anne Arundel County guarantees a minimum revenue of $1.7 million a year, after a 60-day ramp-up period, for housing up to 130 detainees at Ordnance Road Correctional Center. That's about $43,070 per detainee at a $118 per bed rate.
The agreement is one of two programs the county has entered into with federal immigration officials. Some detention officers will be trained through the 287(g) program, which teaches them to screen county inmates for immigration violations, warrants and prior crimes. County officials said they plan to train more officers but training in Charleston, South Carolina, was delayed due to a hurricane.
The ICE detention deal was finalized Sept. 20, with the housing of detainees to begin Oct. 30. The fee assumes a minimum of 40 detainees no matter how many are housed at the correction center. The county will follow ICE's detention standards, which have different requirements such as recreation time, according to the agreement.
Because the jail doesn't need more staff to oversee the additional detainees, the profit margin of the agreement is "significant," said Terry Kokolis, county superintendent of the Department of Safety and Corrections.
This deal made sense for the county because it provides a place to treat the detainees humanely and is a benefit to the county as well, Kokolis said.
"Without these agreements...(the detainees) would not be home with their families, they would be incarcerated somewhere else," Kokolis said. "They will be dealt with in a way that is humane and constitutionally sound."
Housing immigration detainees within local correctional facilities is a common strategy used by ICE. The federal agency enters into "intergovernmental service agreements" with local governments and pays them on a per detainee basis.
The county received a better deal than other local governments with a $118 per detainee minimum compared to $90 in other counties. The deal also includes $43.52 an hour for stationary guard or detention officers when needed in "emergency situations" at health care facilities, according to the agreement.
The Ordnance Road Correctional Center houses people convicted of a crime and sentenced to 18 months or less, as well as those awaiting trial. Although being held at the correctional center, ICE detainees are not considered criminal offenders.
Immigration issues have been a big part of the national discourse with President Donald Trump elected on a platform that ran a hard line against undocumented immigrants and advocated for travel bans on legal immigration of Muslims.
The rise of MS-13 -- an El Salvadorean gang that preys on immigrant communities -- has further stoked discussions on how to protect lawful immigrants while deporting those that commit crimes or break immigration law.
Five people accused in a gang killing on the outskirts of Annapolis were recently charged, but police have not publicly confirmed the incident was tied to MS-13. Another attack in Annapolis was similar to MS-13 style attacks, but police did not officially link it to MS-13. An Annapolis High School student was beaten up earlier this year after allegedly refusing to join MS-13.
Anne Arundel and Annapolis officials last month announced a joint task force dedicated to tackling gang-related crime within the county. Officials at that meeting did not specify which gangs that task force was targeting. County Executive Steve Schuh said the task force will be a combination of city and county law enforcement alongside officers from the FBI.
The task force, along with the ICE agreement and the 287(g) program, represent a multifaceted approach to tackling immigration and safety issues in the county, said Owen McEvoy, a county spokesman.
"Some of the gangs that have been causing problems in Anne Arundel County have a large population of illegal immigrants," McEvoy said. "Obviously these efforts in partnerships with the federal government will prove effective in keeping people safe."
A representative of American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland raised concerns that county immigration policies could lead police officers to racially profile residents in the search of immigration violations.
Specifically related to 287(g), a study on Frederick County's use of the program found that arrests of Hispanics dropped after the program was implemented, leading the author to the conclusion that fewer Hispanic families were reporting crimes in their communities. Frederick law enforcement dismissed the study and its claims that Hispanics were less likely to report crimes.
"The reasons we don't like commingling of responsibilities is because it encourages things like racial profiling," said Nick Steiner, an immigrant rights fellow at ACLU of Maryland. "They use everything to justify a stop of a Latino person in the street."
(c)2017 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.)