ICE’s Bill Passage To Impact Worcester Jail

SNOW HILL – Though Gov. Larry Hogan could veto a bill that would prohibit the county jail from working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, county officials are still preparing for decreased revenues going forward.

The legislature this week passed the “Dignity Not Detention Act,” which will ban local jails like Worcester County’s from housing detainees for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a budget discussion Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners agreed to decrease jail revenues as a result but held out hope the county’s contract with ICE wouldn’t end immediately.

“Governor Hogan they think is going to veto it,” Warden Fulton Holland said. “We should be good for another year.”

Worcester County has been housing up to 200 immigration-related detainees through a contract with ICE since 1999. Revenue from the ICE agreement provided the jail with $5.1 million of its $9.2 million budget in fiscal year 2019. The legislation approved this week would prohibit governmental entities in Maryland, including Worcester County, from housing ICE detainees as of October 2022.

Senator Mary Beth Carozza said this week she voted against the legislation and offered an amendment that would have exempted Worcester County from the legislation.

“Making Maryland a sanctuary state would threaten public safety and put Maryland and Worcester County at risk of losing millions of federal dollars,” Carozza said. “I will continue to oppose all efforts to make Maryland a sanctuary state.”

Though Carozza’s amendment failed, Hogan indicated in a press conference Monday that he intended to veto the legislation if it passed.

“I would veto any sanctuary bill that passed the legislature today,” he said. “Hopefully that won’t happen. But we would definitely veto that.”

During Holland’s budget presentation to the commissioners Tuesday, he said projected ICE revenues were being cut $2.5 million in the coming year. Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said the county needed to plan on losing all of its ICE revenue eventually. As a result, personnel levels will also have to be looked at carefully, he said.

“Every position now really has to be analyzed,” he said. “We have to assume we’re going to lose ICE completely. That’s the assumption we have to operate under.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.