DOVER, New Hampshire (NEWS CENTER) - When someone suspected of being in this country illegally is arrested in Maine, they are taken across the state border to New Hampshire, where they are detained.
The federal government does not have agreements to house them anywhere in Maine. In Dover, New Hampshire, county officials saw that as a business opportunity and seized up on it.
In the debate over immigration there’s been a lot of talk about a wall. Inside the Strafford County Jail, a new wall has allowed corrections officials to take in more ICE detainees
“That gives us the flexibility to house specific individuals, with specific requirements, in safe and secure areas”, said Jail Superintendent Capt. Chris Brackett.
The federal government requires that people detained strictly for being undocumented, be separated from people accused of other crimes. By building the wall, the jail can now house all ICE detainees.
“We became a one stop shop for them. Instead of taking some detainees to us and some detainees to any other place that houses ice inmates”, said County Manager Ray Bower.
The feds pay the county $83 a day to house each detainee. On average there about a one hundred there, that’s a quarter of the jail’s total inmate population. With that money jail officials paid off construction of the wall, about $450,000, in just three months. The money that keeps coming in from ICE goes towards jail operations.
“We have to staff for the space anyway. So if we have staff for it, we might as well use it as an opportunity to help the taxpayers of Stafford County to offset the cost of jail operations”, said Bower.
Everyone is aware of the President’s tough talk on cracking down on illegal immigrants. Jail officials say they’ll be ready to handle more detainees with proper advance warning.
“If there was a massive influx we would like to communicate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement”, said Brackett.
Right now county officials say it’s hard to tell if that section of the jail will be filling up anytime soon.
“They’re talking about streamlining the deportation process, so if that occurs, it may have no impact on our population”, Bower said.
An ICE spokesperson in Boston says detainees who wont be taken here, whether they are from Maine or anywhere else in New England, are the ones close to being deported. They would be held in Massachusetts, close to the airport.