El Paso jail locks in feds’ funding

Immigration enforcement yields new revenue during tight times.

Faced with a budget crunch that forced him to lay off deputies, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has tapped a new source of revenue: illegal immigrants. Maketa has started leasing space in his jail to house an average of 150 immigrants a night for federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He also sent 17 jail deputies for training in immigration procedures so they can initiate deportations without waiting for federal agents. ICE pays $62.40 a night for each detained immigrant, plus mileage for transport in sheriff’s vans. The arrangement pumped $3.6 million into El Paso County over the past year and now provides 10 percent of the jail’s budget. “I feel like we’re truly contributing to (solving) a national problem,” said Maketa, one of 67 law enforcement agency chiefs nationwide who have had deputies authorized to enforce federal immigration laws.

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Fighting piracy without the risks

There would seem to be a simple solution to the problem of piracy off Africa: Arm merchant ships to the teeth, put guards on board and shoot anyone who tries to climb on deck. But insurance and security costs, restrictions on weapons imposed by the world’s ports, and concerns about the safety of crews sailing with flammable or explosive cargo have led the industry to pause rather than arm crews.

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Palestinian fully calls U.S. home

A blind immigrant wins his five-year battle to become a citizen.

A five-year fight for citizenship ended with a closed, five-minute swearing-in ceremony Tuesday for Palestinian refugee Zuhair Mahd. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials, known for routinely conducting mass swearing-in ceremonies of new citizens in downtown Denver, excluded the media for the brief presentation of a certificate of naturalization to Mahd. Some of Mahd’s family and friends attended. “It’s over,” Mahd, 35, said on the windy steps outside the USCIS building, waving a U.S. flag. “Someone asked me, ‘Why do you even want to be a citizen after all this?’ In my mind, this is a country with good people that get up every morning to do the right thing — just to be good people. I wanted to be part of that.”

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