U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) wants more space in Minnesota to house immigrant detainees, according to a recent article in The St. Cloud Times.
Sherburne County Jail has offered to grant ICE 500 beds, up from the 300 beds it currently provides, in response to a request from the agency for more detention space within 100 miles of its St. Paul office, the outlet reports.
The jail has contracted with ICE since 1998, and receives $100 a day per inmate from the agency. The county receives an estimated $11 million annually as a result of the contract, which it uses to help maintain the jail and other county properties.
Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott told The St. Cloud Times that more than half of the 1,500 detainees housed in the jail in 2018 were from Mexico, while the remainder were from 85 different countries. He said roughly 75 percent had prior criminal convictions.
“There’s a lot of core services that would need to be improved and built out, so it’s easier to pay for those improvements when you’re receiving a per diem for 500 individuals versus 300,” Brott said, noting that the expansion would create 61 new jobs.
“We’re all aware of the mental health concerns and issues in county jails, and medical concerns,” he added. “And we want provide the best service possible we can to all inmates and detainees.”
Sherburne County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said an expansion of the contract requires approval from the county board and assured the public that it would be an open process.
“We’re starting out the discussion with the count that they’re asking for, and who knows where we end up,” he said. “It could be less. We could change it, or we could pull out of this as well. We’re not committed.”
Four other Minnesota counties have similar contracts with ICE, including Freeborn, Nobles, Kandiyohi, and Carver. The Freeborn County facility was visited by Republican candidates during the 2018 elections.
Any expansion of Sherburne County’s facility will likely face protests from Minnesota Democrats, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05), who as recently as June 4 called for abolishing ICE.
“ICE is an organization that has become increasingly militarized, brutal and unaccountable; it must be abolished,” she wrote on Twitter.
ICE is an organization that has become increasingly militarized, brutal, and unaccountable; it must be abolished. https://t.co/Zf0JhIV0VJ
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) June 4, 2019
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