Hillsborough County says it cost $11 million to feed and house illegal immigrants...Ronda Storms is outraged by Mitch E. Perry

09/20/06

Hillsborough County Commission Ronda Storms thinks it’s outrageous that County Taxpayers are paying for undocumented immigrants in County jails.

In August, Storms asked for an audit to find out how many illegal immigrants are in the system, and how much its costing the county. She received an answer by the official in charge, Colonel David Parrish (roll tape#1 o.q.�at the total cost is�)

But Parrish , the County Sherriff’s Office detention department commander, said there wasn’t much the County could do about it, since policing illegal immigrants is a federal role.

But Commissioner Storms would have none of that, repeating the dollar amount that Parrish had just provided the Commissioners (roll tape#2 o.q.�just a conservative estimate�)

An official with the Immigration and Customers Enforcement agency, or ICE, was scheduled to appear but did not. Colonel Parrish said that an ICE attorney had recommended that he not speak publicly.

The immigration issue has become perhaps the leading domestic issue in the country in 2006. The U.S. Senate was scheduled to vote on approving funding for a 750 mile fence across the Mexican border today, though a comprehensive bill dealing with illegal immigration appears unlikely with only a couple of weeks left in the current Congress.

Storms has picked up on the issue like no other Commissioner on the Hillsborough Commission. In addition to the $11 million dollars, Storms said the costs of new jail facilities should also lay , in part, with undocumented immigrants clogging the system (roll tape#3 o.q.�and we’re doing nothing�)

Storms then proposed a motion to have the Hillsborough County Attorney facilitate a process so that THEY- and not the federal government – could begin deportation proceedings on undocumented prisoners who come to the County Jails, and look into recouping the money - $11 million dollars in the past year, that they’ve spent on housing and feeding those prisoners.

Storms said regardless of how one feels about the issue of illegal immigrants, surely her colleagues could not argue that the taxpayers were being ‘hosed’ by this system (roll tape#4 o.q.�Hillsborough County�)

Other than Commissioner Jim Norman making some comments that the Sherriffs Department should be part of the study, no other commissioners voice an opinion on the issue. Storms motion passed 7-0.

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