BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Empty cells at Anne Arundel County Detention Centers may soon be filled, all while earning the county millions of dollars.
Anne Arundel County is in negotiations to house undocumented immigrants that are awaiting deportation. And although things aren’t final, immigration advocates say this is a slippery slope.
County Executive Steve Schuh has been working out a deal with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ICE, to potentially use the 130 free beds at the county jail to house undocumented immigrants facing deportation.
County Spokesman Owen McEvoy says it could bring in millions for the county.
“We view it as a win-win. We’re enforcing the laws of our nation, and at the very same time, we’re getting more revenue for Anne Arundel County,” said McEvoy.
And Anne Arundel county isn’t alone; Frederick, Howard, and Carroll Counties all have similar programs in place.
But blurring the lines between county and federal law enforcement, especially during a contentious political season, worries immigrant advocates like Elizabeth Alex.
“Will a call to the police, a call to 911, result in protection and support from police officers that are there to protect them? Or, will it be a first step on a path toward deportation? — That’s the fear of the community,” said Elizabeth Alex, CASA de Maryland Regional Director.
Several democratic County Council members oppose the idea as well.
McEvoy says critics are politically driven, and the county won’t back down from the deal.
“At the end of the day, this could be a good deal for Anne Arundel County and we’re going to pursue it,” he said.
No agreement has been signed yet, again, this is just in consideration, but Anne Arundel County says they will pursue the best possible deal for taxpayers. County Council plans to discuss the agreement at their meeting next Monday.