Discussion on Illegal Immigrants in Hillsborough Jails by Mitch E. Perry

08/02/06

Earlier this year, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ronda Storms asked an official with the Hillsborough County Jail system to investigate how many illegal immigrants are in the system and how much it’s costing taxpayers.

So today, Colonel David Parrish, Hillsborough County Sherriff’s Office detention department commander, came back to address Storms and her colleagues on the issue (roll tape#1 o.q.�are not US Citizens�)

Parrish said that if somebody is charged with a crime, regardless of their nationality, they are arrested and then have to contend with the Courts. If they are released from jail , he said, only the Federal Government can then deal (or not) with their legal status ..He says the County does NOT have the legal authority to take people who are NOT US Citizens to ship them anywhere (roll tape# 2 o.q.�if they wish to�)

But Commissioner Storms called the situation ‘outrageous’. And she called a new program by Homeland Security to start cracking down on employers for hiring undocumented workers as ‘hypocritical’, since she says the feds won’t fulfil their own responsibilities regarding illegal immigrants (roll tape#3 o.q.�know the answer to that�)

Storms say it was incumbent to learn how many illegal immigrants are in the jail system. And what the cost is to the taxpayers. She suggested that County Administrator Pat Bean hire out Tax Watch, the statewide nonpartisan tax watchdog group, to review how much the care of undocumented prisoners are costing the county. (roll tape#4 o.q. “we need to address�)

The issue of illegal immigration has been perhaps the most dominant issue in the past year domestically….After the House Of Representatives voted for a bill that would actually make illegal immigrants felons was passed last December, immigrant rights groups held massive demonstrations against the legislation earlier this year.

The U.S. Senate later on then voted on their version of an immigration bill that would allow a good percentage of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants get on a path to become legal citizens….That bill has been denounced by conservatives as tantamount to ‘amnesty’ – and has been resisted by many Republicans, and used as a campaign issue…..Commissioner Storms is involved in a contested battle for State Senate.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputy Department official Colonel David Parrish insisted that to address Storms complaints would mean asking the feds for help (roll tape#5 o.q.� any other jail�) And Parrish said that County Jails have received less funding from the feds in recent years in housing undocumented immigrants.

Commissioner Tom Scott then suggested that the County target their Federal Lobbyist to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about the problem (roll tape#6 o.q.�sound like to me�)

And Storms said she wanted to know what happens to undocumented immigrants when they are released from jails (roll tape#7 o.q.�what about those people?�)

The Commision then voted to support a motion by Storms to have the County’s Federal Lobbyist deal with Immigration and Customers Enforcement, and then have an audit of what illegal immigrants are costing the County to hold in jail.

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