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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