By Mark Honey
In Dakota County, jailing migrants is making bank for the Sheriff’s office.
Sheriff Chris Kleinberg brought in more than $60k in January alone through two deals with immigration agencies, the ACLU-Nebraska reports. That apparently isn’t enough for the Republican Sheriff, who sent an email to ICE asking, “How is it possible that those removals are so low, when there are so many non-white children in Dakota County schools?”
The ACLU, Winnebago Tribe, and others started a petition calling for the sheriff to end the agreement.
Dakota County isn’t alone. The corrections systems of Douglas, Hall, and Cass counties all currently have agreements with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The three corrections departments combined have 33 facilities where migrants and asylum seekers may be held.
ICE has nearly 1,500 of these jails available throughout the country. That huge number doesn’t include Border Patrol facilities on the southern border, or the hotels, hospitals, and country jails that ICE also contracts with. Most of them, 71%, are run by for profit companies.
Somewhere out there a CEO is cashing a check by breaking international law and detaining asylum seekers without proper process, all with the thumbs up from the US government.
Some brave protesters have taken the fight to ICE directly. #Occupy-ICE has inspired forces around the country. Last year in Philadelphia, a week long occupation caused the mayor to end an agreement similar to Dakota County’s. Earlier this month Portland activists did a week of daily actions. Jewish people have decried the detention centers as concentration camps and are standing against them in the tradition of “Never Again.” In Nebraska, vigils and rallies are happening somewhere almost every other week. More than 1,000 attended a vigil in Omaha on July 12.
In California and Chicago, local organizations formed “community defense brigades” to fight against ICE raids. And in Tacoma, Washington, 69-year-old Willem van Spronsen waged a one-man war against an ICE funded, for-profit private prison camp, lobbing firebombs at transport busses until he was shot and killed by police.
The spirit to close the detention centers and let the migrants in is real. Will it turn from a wish into reality?