With some $85 billion in federal budget cuts set to take effect Friday (March 1), Georgia already is feeling the effects in one area -- illegal immigration.
However, the same fallout won't directly affect Gwinnett County, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials acknowledge that "a number of detained aliens have been released around the country," and that Georgia-based detention sites are included in the effort. Those sites are in Atlanta, Gainesville, Stewart (Lumpkin County), and Irwin County.
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However, ICE spokesperson Vincent Padilla told Patch on Wednesday that the Gwinnett Detention Center, the county's central criminal detention facility, is not contracted to hold ICE detainees. People held in Gwinnett are turned over to ICE if they are being held under an immigration charge.
Padilla noted the ICE's latest statement, which was released Monday (Feb. 25):
"As fiscal uncertainty remains over the continuing resolution and possible sequestration, ICE has reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stay within ICE’s current budget. Over the last week, ICE has reviewed several hundred cases and placed these individuals on methods of supervision less costly than detention. All of these individuals remain in removal proceedings. Priority for detention remains on serious criminal offenders and other individuals who pose a significant threat to public safety.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that some detainees have been freed from the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, 145 miles south of Atlanta
As of Friday, ICE was holding more than 2,000 immigrants in Georgia detention centers, according to the AJC.
It reportedly costs ICE $164 per day to detain one inmate, compared to 30 cents and $14 per day for alternatives to detention, according to a 2012 report by the Washington-based National Immigration Forum.
The supervision for released detainees could include electronic monitoring with ankle bracelets, as well as mandatory appointments with the ICE.