This is a Federal Issue/Responsibility and not the financial responsibility of Hidalgo County Taxpayers.
SB 4 – The Sanctuary City Bill signed by Gov. Abbott last week will have an extreme impact, not just on social policy, but will also inflict a tremendous financial burden on Hidalgo County Taxpayers. Our current county jail has beds for 1,200 inmates. We are already overcrowded and as of April 2017, there were 390 inmates being housed in ‘Out of County facilities’ which are under contract with Hidalgo County.
Average cost of housing an Out of County inmate is $75 per day (daily charge, transportation (auto & fuel) - to and from for hearings, manpower, etc. So at $75/day x 390 inmates housed out of county X 365 days, is $10,676,000 a YEAR that Hidalgo County Taxpayers ARE PAYING to house these 390 inmates in out of County facilities.
Currently, before SB 4 even goes into effect, 55% to 60% of all inmates in the Hidalgo County jail system are on an avg of a 30 to 90 day ICE Hold – or an avg of 875 inmates on any given day are being retained by our jail system and paid for with Hidalgo County tax dollars .
Currently, immigration status is only verified on persons ALREADY jailed for a crime, and just with that, Hidalgo County has an average of 875 inmates being held on the 30 to 60 Day avg ICE hold. Since our bed capacity is 1200, we have to pay $75 a day to house all inmates over our 1200 capacity in out of county facilities.
In an opinion piece in the Austin Statesman, the Texas Major Cities Chiefs and the Texas Police Chiefs Association expressed opposition to SB 4 for many of the above reasons, but primarily, because our very limited local resources to apprehend and jail violent offenders and forces law enforcement and jails to allocate these resources to immigration checks and holds – a FEDERAL responsibility, not the financial responsibility of Hidalgo County taxpayers.
We already pay millions a year to house these ICE holds, not counting all the beds that will not be available for violent criminals, human traffickers, gun traffickers and drug cartels/organize crime.
This is a Federal Issue – not an extra and unique burden for our very poor and already over taxed Counties along the border!