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Questions Surround Immigration Detainee Costs

Updated: Wednesday, August 13 2014, 07:48 PM CDT

While state and federal authorities debate the costs of illegal immigration, there's also a lively debate going on over the local costs.  Travis County spends $786,000 a month holding detained undocumented immigrants according to numbers filed with the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.  And immigrant rights groups worry any increase in the sheriff's budget will also fund more of what they see as the illegal detaining of undocumented immigrants.

We crunched the numbers from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and calculated that holding undocumented immigrants for the feds costs the county $105 per inmate per day.  The cost of keeping inmates quickly adds up but it doesn't subtract quite as easily.  Just because an inmate walks out the door doesn't mean Travis County automatically saves $105.  Salaries have to be paid, lights have to stay on, building has to be maintained, and there are other costs.

There's also no uniform way of comparing costs from county to county.  That's why Travis county may report its costs at $105 per person per day but neighboring counties may report much lower costs.

Daily Cost of Holding Immigration Detainees:

- Travis County $105

- Williamson County $79

- Hays County $68

- Bastrop County $44

Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton defends the per-day charge for his county saying it the state didn't specify what costs to include so they included everything including the inmate's share of the cost of building costs.  Hamilton hopes the state will clarify its reporting criteria but they may have to wait for the next legislature for guidance.

By Fred Cantu

Questions Surround Immigration Detainee Costs

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