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Suit seeks information on immigrants held in county jail

March 4, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Three groups that believe the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is using the Cumberland County Jail as a short-term detention center for immigrants are suing for information.

The ACLU of Maine, the Immigrant Legal Advocacy Project and the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Maine School of Law sued under the federal Freedom of Information Act for information about ICE’s new facility in Scarborough and about immigrant detainees.

They’re seeking records, including those approving transfers of ICE detainees, transfers to and from the Cumberland County Jail and plans for the ICE facility in Scarborough.

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The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, said the federal agency violated the FOIA by failing to respond to its request on Jan. 15.

Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who oversees operations at the Cumberland County Jail, provided figures Wednesday to the Portland Press Herald that substantiate the groups’ claims that there was an increase in the number of immigrants in ICE custody at the jail during 2020.

But Joyce provided no insight on why the numbers spiked significantly, adding that ICE does not share that type of information with him.