The Justifying Monkey
Some local governments, however, found a way to keep the federal dollars rolling into the coffers, using the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" strategy. What they did was figure out a way to balance things out on the back of the vulnerable, just the way the Bush administration and their cronies did.
Among the most vulnerable are illegal workers. While the Bush administration was busy rounding them up, some counties and states figured out that somebody was going to have to house them, at a cost to the feds, of course. Voila! Instant detention centers.
Bristol and other cash-strapped county jails are increasingly embracing the immigration business, capitalizing on the soaring number of foreign-born detainees and the millions of federal dollars a year paid to incarcerate them. Bristol County alone has raked in $33 million since 2001, and has used the money to transform itself into a sprawling campus with a commissary, an ambulance communications center, and a "management accountability building" for regular meetings on jail operations.
"That money is a tremendous boost for us," said Plymouth County Sheriff Joseph D. McDonald Jr., whose jail houses 324 immigrants, up from 44 a decade ago, bringing in $15.6 million last year. "We aggressively try to market ourselves to get as many of those inmates into our doors as we can."
this year, the federal government budgeted $1.7 billion nationwide and $42.8 million in New England for detainees
The federal government is willing to pay $90 per day per detainee for the service, so once the ICE raids started rolling, the cash started rolling in. And it made a big difference to budgets.
In the Suffolk County jail, 269 immigrants now fill Building 8, which was empty before 2003 because its open floor plan made it a security risk for the general prison population. Instead of having to remodel the new $20 million building, Sheriff Andrea Cabral began housing immigrants there, bringing in $10 million a year. ...
"The revenue that is generated from this has been a lifesaver for my budget," Cabral said. "Otherwise the building would be empty, and I'd be struggling a lot more with some of the issues that we've had." ...
The extra funding, meanwhile, injects cash into communities that are struggling during the economic downturn. By expanding the number of immigrants, Bristol jail managed to build five buildings on the campus and expand services that help the entire county, such as a communications unit that patches ambulance drivers through to hospitals, the sheriff said.
Hey! Everybody's a winner! Well, almost everyone.
This is what unrestrained capitalism does to us.