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States Burdened By Lengthy Federal Detentions Of Undocumented Immigrants

Our  Fronteras Desk reporter at Marfa Public Radio, Lorne Matalon reports.

Texas has spent $156.6 million holding undocumented immigrants in county jails while awaiting deportation proceedings.

The money was spent on housing more than 131,000 immigrants during the last two years. The Texas Tribune reports that through the federal program Secure Communities, county jails are frequently asked to hold people with minor criminal histories for federal immigration proceedings, legally for a maximum of 48 hours. Texas eagerly embraced the program in 2008 and expanded its reach even as other states opted out due to racial profiling concerns.

In California, detaining people on immigration charges adds up to an estimated $65 million a year.

The Texas Tribune reports that authorities keep immigrants locked up for much longer furtherescalating costs. In Los Angeles County, where immigrants were reportedly detained for several weeks longer than the legal limit, taxpayers spent more than $26 million per year.

Santa Clara County refused to honor immigration detentions unless Washington paid for for space and staff time in the affected jails. This funding never came, but California recently addressed the problem by banning local law enforcement throughout the state from detaining immigrants without violent criminal records on behalf of federal authorities.