Many undocumented immigrants are detained every year in Texas. In many of these cases, immigrants are detained in state and county jails across the state. Texas law requires prisons to keep track of how much it costs to detain undocumented immigrants, and reports show that county jails in Texas spent more than $156 million housing undocumented immigrants during the last two years.
The state started keeping track of the costs to jail undocumented immigrants facing deportation to try to get the federal government to reimburse local jails and communities for detaining immigrants before deportation.
Jails in Harris County had the highest number of undocumented immigrants being detained in Texas. Reports show that the Harris County jail had more than 30,000 undocumented immigrants detained at a cost of $49 million.
Local sheriffs have said that they continue to detain undocumented immigrants if they commit a crime to make sure justice is served, and to ensure that the immigrants are kept off the streets. However, some people question why undocumented immigrants who commit crimes are placed in jail in the first place since they will just be deported after serving their sentence.
When undocumented immigrants are arrested for a crime, they are not only at risk for serving time in prison but also face the risk of being deported. This can result in very serious consequences for immigrants and their families, especially if the family is separated.
Undocumented immigrants facing criminal charges should consult an immigration attorney who specializes in criminal defense to protect their rights. Being in a new country or having language barriers can make the situation even scarier so it can help to have an attorney on your side to protect your rights and explain your options before being sentenced to jail or deported.
Source: Star-Telegram, "Texas spending millions to jail illegal immigrants," Brandi Grissom, Oct. 16, 2013