Mt. Vernon Register-News

May 16, 2013

ICE's future may be determined

By RICK HAYES
rick.hayes@register-news.com

---- — MT. VERNON — It is unclear when the county may receive Immigration and Customs Enforcement prisoners again. County officials are expected to find out details about the ICE prisoners during the Fiscal Committee meeting today, according to County Board Chairman Robert White.A meeting between ICE and county officials was conducted Wednesday. Unofficial sources state that ICE prisoners will not be returned to the county until Oct. 1 at the earliest. County officials have left the 2012-2013 budget open since ICE prisoners were pulled from the county. Nearly 30 county employees received layoff notices, including several correctional officers and seven deputies, as a result of the loss in revenue to the county.Jefferson County Sheriff Roger Mulch did not return phone calls on Wednesday afternoon, and White said he is aware of the issue and "we will be addressing it at our Fiscal Committee meeting." Shawn Neudauer, a Public Affairs spokesman for ICE, said he could not comment on the status of the ICE prisoners' return."We don't comment on pending litigation," Neudauer said, noting several ICE detainees recently filed a lawsuit against the county for their treatment while being incarcerated in the Jefferson County Justice Center. Neudauer said ICE's fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, which plays into the decision-making process.The jail passed an ICE inspection of April 26 — nearly three weeks ago — conducted by Major Maury Meredith. Meredith was to make a recommendation to Ricardo Long, an ICE liaison between Washington, D.C. and Chicago, and then forward the recommendation to James Bond, the Chicago field office director.Mulch said at the time, "They (ICE) told us once the assessment was completed they (detainees) would return very quickly. They want our facility back."The federal prisoners were taken out of the county jail in early December last year due to missing medical documentation for some of the prisoners. Since that time, the county hired an independent medical firm, Advanced Healthcare Corrections, to deal with medical issues at the jai. In February, a federal lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of seven immigrants who were allegedly held at the jail under sanitary conditions and with inadequate health care. The lawsuit was filed by Heartland Alliance's National Immigrant Justice Center for the Northern District of Illinois' Eastern Division. The lawsuit seeks no monetary judgment, but aims to keep ICE from housing detainees at the facility.Today's Fiscal Committee meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the County Board Room.