Some of the new space at the recently expanded Montgomery County Correctional Facility (MCCF) is going to be used by people on their way out of the United States.
The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners on Thursday approved a resolution that paves the way for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to house up to 60 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainees at the county jail.
The detainees will be people who have already been determined to be in the country illegally and are scheduled for deportation.
Forty of the beds at the jail in the Eagleville section of Lower Providence Township will be reserved for male deportees, and 20 for female deportees. According to Uri Monson, the county's chief financial officer, the average stay will be about three days, but some might not even stay the night.
"Some of these people might only be waiting a few hours for a plane," said Frank Custer, head of the county's communications office. "They may never make it out of a holding cell."
How much the DHS will pay the county for its use of the MCCF has not yet been determined. According to Monson, the cost of housing someone at the facility was estimated at $55 per day about 15 years ago and has not been recalculated since. Monson said the county is working to determine appropriate pricing for the use of the jail facilities.
"We're in the process of determining all the costs that go into a room [at the MCCF]," Monson said.
Commissioner Bruce Castor, however, said that when the county first examined the idea of housing ICE deportees at the jail, the cost per person had been estimated at about $90 per day.
"Since that time, the cost has gone up, and the ICE people are now in negotiation mode," Castor said in a press conference following the Board of Commissioners meeting.
Deportees will not be housed in a specific section of the jail.
"They would be housed wherever there's room," Custer said.
"It's an endless supply," Castor said of the county's arrangement with the DHS. "[ICE] will never run out of people they need to deport."