ICE Wants More Detention Cells in Minnesota

Apparently U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) foresees a demand for considerably more jail cells to house undocumented immigrants taken into custody in Minnesota.  ICE relies on a network of local detention facilities across the country to temporarily house detainees, including  several Minnesota county jails.

While it’s difficult to imagine Hennepin or Ramsey County stepping forward, at least one metro area county has quietly responded to ICE’s request, according to the St. Cloud Times.

Sherburne County is proposing to expand its jail to provide space for up to 500 immigration detainees, an increase from the 300 beds it currently provides for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The county sent the preliminary proposal in response to ICE’s request for additional detention space within 100 miles of its St. Paul field office at Fort Snelling, county officials confirmed.

In fact, Sherburne County has long provided detention facilities to ICE and other federal agencies. The so-called 20th hijacker in the 9/11 terrorist attacks was detained there following his arrest.

ICE maintains contracts with counties across the nation to house people suspected of violating immigration laws. In 2017, Sherburne County signed a contract with the agency that guarantees up to 300 beds a day will be available for ICE detainees in its jail for five years. The agency pays the county $100 a day per inmate housed.

The system largely operates under the radar of public awareness. But the need for more detention facilities to process cases and protect the public demonstrates that local authorities are a critical component.

Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott said last year that just over half of the 1,500 ICE detainees housed in his jail from January through October 2018 were from Mexico, and the rest were from about 85 different countries. About three-fourths had previous criminal convictions.