Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities. These cities, including some in our region, have explicitly said they won't comply with requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold detainees.
At the same time, some local prisons are holding inmates on behalf of ICE, including the Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
It's one of four jails that do so in the state, but the only one in western Massachusetts.
"The people we have here are people who were arrested for committing criminal offenses," said Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan, who oversees the facility. "Sometime during the course of their arrests or their incarceration...it was discovered that they were here illegally. Immigration took whatever steps they needed to take to either begin or complete a deportation process, and then those folks then come here and wait for either the final verdict or for the actual deportation."
I spoke to Sheriff Donelan in his office earlier this week. The day I visited, the jail was holding 83 inmates from ICE. Detaining these prisoners pays $91 per inmate, per day. Donelan said that works out to about $2.5 million or $3 million a year. That money goes to the state, not directly to the jail, but Donelan said it's worth it.