A new study shows the Federal “Secure Communities Program,” which aims to extend prison stays and the deportation of people perceived as threats, is straining local budgets costing taxpayers about $12.5 million a year.
It works like this: When an immigrant is arrested, his or her fingerprints are run and sent to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE analyzes them using biometric technology — physiological and behavioral identification of humans by their characteristics or traits. If the prints belong to an immigrant — including legal residents — and he is considered a threat to society, local law enforcement is notified and is free to prolong the incarceration period or deport of the individual.
Attorney Edward Ramos wrote the study, “Fiscal Impact Analysis of Miami-Dade’s Policy on Immigration Detainers.”
According to the report, naturalized citizens — those not subject to ICE scrutiny — spend an average of 21 days in jail, while immigrants are likely to spend on average of 56 days in jail. That’s about 35 days of added jail time, paid for by taxpayers. In Miami-Dade County alone, that’s 91,560 additional days of jail time per year. Assuming an average cost of $140 per inmate per day, that’s more than $12.8 per year.
Miguel Marquez, counsel for Santa Clara County in California, asked in a letter how the program works. David Venturella – former assistant director of ICE, in August of 2010 answered: “ICE does not reimburse localities for detaining any individual until ICE has assumed actual custody of the individual. Further, ICE will not indemnify localities for any liability incurred because the Anti-Deficiency Act prohibits such indemnity agreements by federal agencies”.
COMMUNITIES SECURED?. Immigrants protest that the federal program make the fear to collaborate with authorities in crimes were they can be call as witness.
Venturella was a known advocate of increasing deportation rates. He now works in the private prison sector for The GEO Group Inc., a private corrections, detention and mental health treatment provider. Janelle Hall is manager of Community Affairs for the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department. She confirmed her department had not received any form of reimbursement from ICE since 2007. Additional costs for extended jail stays were $585,365 in 2010, $1,002,700 in 2011 and $667,076 in 2012, she said.