The current administration does nothing but drain resources from not only the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office but several other sheriffs’ departments across the Commonwealth who seek outside revenue from cooperating with Immigration & Customes Enforcement (ICE). Rather than help support the BCSO, ICE money is essentially going to supplement Deval Patrick’s foolish state spending!
My own Bristol County Sheriff’s Office billed ICE $28.3 million from 2005 through April 2010 yet our budgets get raided annually by the state when we are appropriated.
Cash-strapped sheriffs are locked in a budget battle with the Patrick administration over illegal immigrants, accusing the state of using a hypocritical accounting rule to leave them in the red despite the millions they rake in from detainees.
“They rob Peter to pay Paul and the ones they are robbing are the ones who are fiscally responsible,” said Bristol Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, who said he was forced to freeze 35 positions, remove light bulbs and take other drastic measures to close a $1.6 million gap – despite bringing in millions in federal per diem payments for detained immigrants. “They are very liberal on the illegal issue. But when it generates money for them, they are happy to take it. It’s a real contradiction.”
Under state law, sheriffs are encouraged to seek outside revenue sources to balance their budgets. As one cash-generating measure, Plymouth, Suffolk, Bristol, Franklin and Norfolk sheriffs contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – which does not have its own lockups in Massachusetts – to hold immigration violators at a daily rate of $90 to $95. The system has brought in more than $116 million since 2005.
But the sheriffs say there’s a catch: State budget writers set overly high estimates for the ICE earnings and then deduct that amount from their annual appropriation, leaving them in the red. The state, however, says the per diems are considered extra earnings that are not meant to cover operating costs.