Under New Deal, Suffolk County To Profit From Holding Detained Immigrants For Feds

Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead (Photo/Suffolk County Sheriff's Office)

Cash-strapped Suffolk County is poised to profit from immigrant detentions, potentially making up to $900,000 per month if it utilizes all allotted space, as part of an agreement with the federal government revealed through records obtained by Newsday.

Pending lawsuits have revealed that Suffolk has entered into the new deal with the feds that adds onto an existing agreement with the U.S. Marshalls Service.

Under the agreement, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will also be able utilize beds at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility in Riverhead. At the federal government’s discretion, Newsday reports, up to 150 detainees may be held at the jail, for immigrants “awaiting a hearing on their immigration status or deportation.” Feds can also use the jail space for individuals held for criminal offenses.

Irma Solis, Suffolk County chapter director for the New York Civil Liberties Union called the agreement “very troubling.”

“By them signing on to this agreement, they practically are saying that they are willing to support [the Trump] administration’s agenda of mass detention and mass deportation,” Solis told Newsday. “We’ve seen lately… local law enforcement being too quick to detain people and at times even ignoring or violating individuals’ basic rights.”

Under the previously existing agreement dating back to 1994 with the U.S. Marshalls Service, feds reimbursed the county $123.86 per day for adult male criminal suspects. Expanding this with the new deal, the county can now earn back $200 a day for adults and $225 for children.

Lawsuits aimed at the county centered around its practice of holding immigrants already in jail for up to 48 hours per ICE’s requests. Responding to complaints about temporarily detaining immigrants, federal and county officials defended themselves by pointing to the new detention deal, arguing that such detainees were under federal custody.

Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning told Newsday that she was not aware of such an agreement, adding that the deal should have been discussed with legislators “at least, if not to have an opportunity to make a decision on it, but at least to be informed about it.”

It’s now clearer than ever that the Trump administration’s agenda of mass deportation has seeped into local municipalities, taking advantage of budget gaps by dangling the low-hanging fruit of immigrant detainees for cash.

This nefarious collaboration exacerbates an already strained relationship between local government and the immigrant community.

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Jano Tantongco is the online editor of Long Island Wins. He's previously worked in community journalism as a staff reporter for The Long Islander and The Queens Courier. He aims to pursue truth through a combination of rational inquiry and intuition. He also enjoys bossa nova, road trips and zen philosophy.