The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is encouraging counties nationwide to get involved in immigration enforcement. There are many benefits to partaking of this venture, but the disadvantages may very well outweigh them. According to the Department of Homeland Security, in 2012 there were an estimated 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants residing in the United States. Many of these unauthorized residents either enter the U.S. without inspection or were permitted temporary stay and failed to leave before the date indicated on their admission stamp.
Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh is considering holding undocumented immigrants in unused jail cells for ICE. A large portion of the jail, even entire wings are left unoccupied and Schuh thinks this is a great opportunity for Anne Arundel County to earn a steady income for these services. Advocates for immigrants urge the County to not get involved in the national debate over immigration. They warn undocumented immigrants will become suspicious of local governments who get involved with ICE.
Elizabeth Alex, regional director at CASA, urge local governments to focus on local needs and let the federal immigration enforcement deal with undocumented immigrants. This could potentially cause a divide between the police and immigrants, which is something that should be avoided at all cost.
ICE has tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in custody, awaiting deportation or to have their status determined. Unfortunately, ICE cannot facilitate this large number of detainees, so they reach out to state and local governments for assistance.
Last week, Harford County, Maryland joined forces with ICE to screen for undocumented immigrants. The County will train 10 deputies to oversee the process at the Harford County Detention Center in Bel Air. Sheriff Jeffery Gahler said, “What we’re going to do is, screen every single person that comes into the detention center, after our deputies are trained, and identify those who are here illegally and further victimizing the community.”
Frederick County, Maryland joined the controversial program in 2008. According to ICE, Frederick County has detained over 1,400 undocumented immigrants, since joining the program. If Anne Arundel County follows in suit, the undocumented immigrants will be detained at the Ordnance Road Correctional Center in Glen Burnie.
The numbers of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. are coming from Honduras (13 percent), Guatemala, Costa Rica, Mexico (19 percent), and Ecuador. ICE said many of the detainees are trained in military service or fighting and suspected or known gang members.