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ICE detention holds cost Colorado $13M annually, says think tank

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Honoring Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests costs Colorado law enforcement agencies at least $13 million annually, asserts a report prepared by the Colorado Fiscal Institute.

The Dec. 1 report (.pdf) bases its estimate on research showing that the average stay of an offender with an ICE hold in Denver County jail in 2010 and 2011 was 67 days, 22 days more than the average jail residency of all offenders.

During those same years, ICE issued a detainer request for 41 percent of custodial arrestees in Denver and Broomfield counties; multiplying that rate against the number of suspected undocumented aliens brought into custody those years and again by a statewide average cost of $55 per day for jail detention equals $13 million, the institute says. 

A 2006 Colorado law--SB90--requires local law enforcement to report suspected illegal immigrants to ICE and prohibits local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials. The ICE Secure Communities program of matching arrestee fingerprints sent by local law enforcement to the FBI for criminal checks against the IDENT database of fingerprint scans collected by foreigners entering the United States is also fully activated in Colorado jurisdictions.

The law has likely had the effect of increasing state detention costs, report analysis also says, since state auditor findings have also shown that arresting officers who suspect an arrestee is an undocumented alien are less likely to issue a summons, "no matter the seriousness of the crime." That results in offenders who might otherwise have received a summons spending time in jail.

A greater likelihood of custodial arrest also means that only 37 percent of those with ICE holds held by the Denver County Sheriff in 2010 and 2011 were charged with a felony. Seventy percent of those with an ICE hold ended up being transferred to federal custody, the report says.

For more:
download the Colorado Fiscal Institute report, "Misplaced Priorities: SB90 & The Costs To Local Communities"

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