SANTA ANA (AP) — Hundreds of detained immigrants are being transferred to Orange County jails, and more are on the way, under a deal with the federal government that would bring the cash-strapped Orange County Sheriff’s Department up to $30 million a year, a newspaper reported Sunday.
By mid-October, more than 800 immigration detainees will reside at the Theo Lacy Facility in Orange and the James A. Musick Facility near Irvine, according to The Orange County Register. The first detainees, most of whom are awaiting deportation hearings, started arriving Aug 9.
After initial resistance from some local politicians, the county Board of Supervisors approved a plan in July to rent 838 jail beds to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.
The income — $118 per detainee per day — was expected to generate $30 million. That money will help the sheriff’s department deal with a projected $65 million shortfall in next year’s budget.
Sheriff’s spokesman John McDonald told the newspaper the revenue helped save jobs at the department.
“We would have had to lay off some deputies,” he said.
In exchange, ICE can meet the demand for much-needed bed space.
Immigration officials said the detainees at the jails are held on administrative violations and therefore separated from the county’s criminal population at the same facilities.
Most ICE detainees are those suspected of being in the country illegally who also have some sort of criminal record.
Other detainees do not have criminal records and instead are being held because they are suspected of being in the country illegally, avoided a past deportation order, or returned after a prior deportation.
They are awaiting deportation, hearings, asylum, appeals, or travel documents.
The Register said 509 detainees 401 in Theo Lacy and 108 in Musick were in Orange County as of Sept. 28.
Santa Ana already contracts with ICE, providing 200 beds annually since 2006.
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