ICE rips California county for scrapping contract to house detainees, says move could backfire

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement ripped a California county on Monday for scrapping a contract to house illegal detainees in a correctional facility ahead of deportation, suggesting the move could backfire and ultimately hurt immigrant families.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors voted last week to cancel a five-year-old contract the county had with the Department of Homeland Security and ICE, which allotted nearly $6 million a year in federal funds to the county sheriff’s department to help run the facilities.

“The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors’ decision to not renew a contract housing ICE detainees at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center will negatively impact local ICE operations; however, the impact will be greater for those who have been detained at the facility,” an ICE spokeswoman said in a statement to Fox News on Monday.

“Now, instead of being housed close to family members or local attorneys, ICE may have to depend on its national system of detention bed space to place those detainees in locations farther away from Sacramento, reducing the opportunities for in-person family visitation and attorney coordination,” the spokeswoman added.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is currently holding 86 undocumented detainees, according to the sheriff’s office. The majority of those detainees reportedly have a criminal record.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office told Fox News that the detainees are required to be moved out of their facilities by June 30.

The spokesman also told Fox News that they did not know, or have any control, over where the detainees would be moved, noting that the decision falls under ICE’s jurisdiction.

“These folks, most of the detainees, if they are in our facilities, they are from northern California,” the spokesman told Fox News over the phone Monday. “If they are transferred out of California, it will separate them further from their families.”

The spokesman said at least 90 percent of the detainees were from California, and could have visitors to the facilities.

“Housing them somewhere else, potentially out of the state, would make them have less ability to have contact with family members living here locally,” the spokesman said, noting that the sheriff’s department will “do our due diligence and finish the contract out,” to ensure a “smooth transition” for detainees.

But members of the Sacramento Board of Supervisors who voted in favor of nixing the contract said they hoped the county could “set the trend” for the state.

“We’re not housing these people. We are jailing these people,” District 1 Supervisor Phil Serna said.

In a number of post-decision interviews with local media, Serna made it clear that while the ICE contract comes with some revenue potential, extending the contract amounts to moral bankruptcy that the county cannot afford.

“Our budgets must reflect our values,” Serna said. “I do not value jailing immigrants, some of whom have not committed any criminal violations.”