AP NEWS

Sherburne County proposes housing more immigrant detainees

June 4, 2019

ELK RIVER, Minn. (AP) — A county with the second largest jail in Minnesota has responded to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s request for more space to hold an estimated 500 immigration detainees.

The federal agency sought proposals in March for additional detention space within 100 miles (160 kilometers) of its St. Paul office at Fort Snelling. Sherburne County responded by saying it could expand its jail to add 200 more beds for individuals suspected of violating immigration laws, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

The jail in Elk River already provides 300 beds for the agency’s detainees. ICE pays the county $100 a day per detainee.

Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott said the proposed expansion would also build a new kitchen, laundry, booking and interview areas for immigrant detainees.

“There’s a lot of the 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.

It’s unclear if or when ICE will decide on the proposal.

The county board must approve any jail expansion or new contract with ICE, which would allow for public input.

County Commissioner Felix Schmiesing said that if Sherburne County didn’t propose more space for detainees, ICE could end its contract with the county after it expires in 2022.

“We have a number of people that live in our area that work in that facility, and we want to make sure that we continue to have employment for them,” Schmiesing said.

The county hasn’t seen much opposition to its federal jail contracts, which many residents view as sources of revenue and employment opportunities.

Rev. Robin Raudabaugh, pastor of Union Congregational Church in Elk River, questioned what would happen to the facility under a president with different immigration policy goals.

“All of a sudden, you find yourself at a place where there’s this huge monstrosity of something that is really not good,” she said.

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Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org

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