Yuba County sheriff: $6.5M ICE contract critical
A group of people rallied outside the Yuba County Jail last weekend protesting the detention of an undocumented immigrant, Isaias Mosqueda Cisneros, who was arrested earlier in the week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers while on his way to his work.
Friends, family and supporters of Cisneros’ called for bail to be set for the Auburn man and for authorities to not deport him. A spokesperson for ICE reportedly said that Mosqueda Cisneros entered the U.S. illegally and was targeted by immigration officers due to a 2006 conviction for an offense of assault with a deadly weapon.
Mosqueda Cisneros will have to wait until April 18 for a court hearing to learn what his fate will be and if he’ll be granted bail. Until then, he will remain at the Yuba County Jail, but he won’t be the only person housed there who is charged with entering the country illegally.
As one of four in the state, the Yuba County Jail houses an average of about 182 ICE detainees on any given day.
“It’s a daily fluctuating number,” said Yuba County Sheriff Steven Durfor. “Per our contract with ICE, we cannot house more than 210 detainees at a time, but we haven’t been near that number in several years. Some days the number is up, some days it’s down. It’s based solely on how many available beds there are, because first and foremost we must be able to house local offenders that are a threat to public safety.”
The county’s contract with ICE – which has existed since the 1990s – only requires the Yuba County Jail to be a housing
“In no way do we engage in undocumented enforcement. We don’t provide transportation or anything of that nature. Every detainee arrives here and leaves here in an ICE vehicle or bus,” Durfor said.
He said detainees housed at the Yuba County Jail are typically pending immigration proceedings in San Francisco. During their time at the jail, Durfor said they are allowed virtually all of the same services and opportunities as regular inmates.
“There is no prohibition for them to be involved in any of the programs offered to local inmates, with the exception of being able to work outside the facility,” he said.
They have the right to phone calls, visitations and the jail’s commissary. They can also take courses and classes to earn a GED while they await court hearings, he said.
The contract with ICE requires the facility to be inspected at least twice a year, and the jail is held to national detention standards, Durfor said.
The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office is paid by ICE to house detainees. In the past few years, the contract has generated about $5 million in revenue annually.
The county recently renegotiated its per diem rate with ICE – currently set at $97.39 per day, per detainee. If the jail continues with its average detainees per day, the new contract is estimated to generate about $6.5 million in revenue per year.
ICE funding has been critical for the sheriff’s department, which has faced cuts since the economic downturn.
“We have yet to fully recover from the recession. We have had substantial budget cuts for the last 10 years that we’ve tried to absorb and mitigate somehow,” Durfor said. “Fiscally, we continue to struggle to stand up adequate services, address rising cost of employment and to operate the jail.”
The money generated from the ICE contract goes toward jail functions and toward other public safety services provided by the sheriff’s department. Durfor said the sheriff’s office would be a shell of what it is today without those funds.
“Clearly, an estimated $6.5 million in revenue is critically important, especially when all of that money is directed back to offsetting costs for our sheriff and jail functions,” Durfor said. “In order to continue operating in the state we are in today, we would have to find that money as a county somewhere else.”
As for Mosqueda Cisneros, a GoFundMe campaign was started to help pay for his deportation defense (https://www.gofundme.com/isaias-mosqueda-deportation-defense). The campaign has raised more than $4,000 and is nearing its goal of $5,000.