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Florida county makes changes to undocumented immigrant detentions

Many individuals living in the Miami area are aware of the toll that the deportation of undocumented individuals can take on a family. Even before an individual is returned to the country of his or her birth, they may be torn away from loved ones and temporarily housed in jail. Though likely not the first thing that comes to mind, there is a monetary expense connected to it as well.

Officials with Miami-Dade County are well aware of this and recently announced changes to the way it plans on handling undocumented individuals who have been taken into custody and detained at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The way the system is currently designed provides ICE with 48 hours to take action regarding the detainee before he or she is released.

As a result, the county recently announced that it plans to no longer pay for detainees to be held by the federal agency. The change will likely have an impact on the county’s budget since it costs approximately $142 a day to cover the basics of housing a detainee and for reasons that are unclear, that expense is not always fully reimbursed by the federal government. In addition, any health costs incurred are not included in that amount.

While the expense associated with this practice is one reason for the change, it is not the only one. Immigration-rights activists believe it is a human rights issue. Specifically, individuals have been detained for an extended period of time even when the infractions that led to the detention were considered minor or when they paid bail or the charges brought were dropped.

Being detained and possibly deported should be taken seriously. Because it is a situation that could lead to major changes in one‘s life, it is important to do all one can to avoid deportation. This is usually best accomplished with the assistance of an immigration lawyer.

Source: Miami Herald, “Miami-Dade plans to stop paying for federal immigration detentions,” Patricia Mazzei, Dec. 18, 2013

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