Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office

The Sweetwater County Sheriff's Office has released a statement on the housing of inmates who are being transferred into federal custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE].

A total of 11 such inmates were held in the Sweetwater County Detention Center on Friday, Feb. 14, according to the sheriff's office.

The statement reads in part as follows:

While the housing of local prisoners always takes precedence, when vacancy permits, temporarily accommodating inmates-in-transit from these outside organizations helps offset the costs of jail operations by offering an added source of revenue for the County’s general fund.  Depending on the contract or MOU, the County is compensated $60 to $80 per inmate per day for a total of $350,000 to $500,000 annually. 

With respect to “ICE holds” specifically, according to their annual operations report for Fiscal Year 2019, ICE removed or returned a total of 267,000 illegal immigrants.  Their Enforcement and Removal Operations arrested 143,000 individuals, more than 86% of whom had criminal convictions, pending criminal charges or previously issued final orders.

“ICE remains committed to removing dangerous, recidivist criminals from our communities and restoring integrity to our nation’s immigration system,” said ICE Public Affairs Officer Alethea Smock.

According to the Sheriff’s Office public relations officer, Deputy Jason Mower, “In each case at our Detention Center, these inmates are either previously convicted or currently facing criminal charges and awaiting transfer into federal custody by ICE for additional alleged immigration violations.”

Mower continued, “While we do work in conjunction with ICE to identify those arrested for criminal activity who may also be subject to deportation or other immigration proceedings, we do not possess the lawful authority to enforce federal immigration law nor to detain anyone indefinitely absent pending or formal criminal charges.”