Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Immigrant 'holds' at jail rise for past three years (The Coloradoan)

Immigrant 'holds' at jail rise for past three years
2:25 AM, May. 25, 2011
Written by Trevor Hughes

The number of "holds" being placed on immigrants at the Larimer County Detention Center has risen consistently in the past three years.

All inmates booked into the jail are asked where they were born, and anyone who says they were born outside the United States is reported to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said county sheriff's Lt. Patrick McCosh.

Then ICE investigates whether to place an immigration detainer on each reported person. The jail reports 500 to 600 foreign-born people annually to ICE. An ICE detainer means an inmate or convict may ultimately be taken before an immigration judge and possibly deported, but only after serving any criminal punishment meted out by a local judge.

In 2008, ICE placed holds on 128 inmates, rising to 153 in 2009 and 198 in 2010, according to jail statistics. About 60 holds have been placed this year by ICE, jail officials said.

"ICE is just reacting to the numbers that we present them. ... We are required to report to ICE anybody who reports to us that they are foreign-born," McCosh said. "ICE, using their combined data resources, starts looking at whether there is any indication he is or is not here legally."

McCosh said jail-booking workers don't demand proof of legal residency from incoming inmates, but everyone gets fingerprinted, and those fingerprints and other identifying information are ultimately entered into a federal database. He said inmates sometimes lie about their identity. And it rarely works, he said.

"Given time, we can figure out who the heck you are," McCosh said.

As of Tuesday, the jail held 456 inmates, out of a theoretical capacity of 557. Current funding levels, however, mean jail managers have capped the number of inmates around 460.

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