Sherburne County's plan to expand ICE detainee capacity at jail has stalled

Updated: August 15, 2019 10:52 PM

Sherburne County's push to house more immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will not move forward as planned.

ICE put out a request for proposals in March. The agency is seeking a detention facility within 100 miles of the St. Paul office at Fort Snelling to hold about 500 detainees in a “high, medium and low custodial setting.”


Sherburne County submitted its proposal in May. 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned the proposal is no longer being considered.

Commissioner Tim Dolan said the county didn’t meet some of the minimum federal guidelines, specifically in National Environmental Policy Act process, which applies to the environmental impact.

“It’s a very in-depth process, costly and time-consuming process and to be honest, that's probably a good chunk of the reason why we didn't meet that minimum threshold,” said Dolan. “We didn't have the time that we probably needed to complete all of the necessary requirements they wanted in that submission.”

According to Dolan, the county found out about two-and-a-half weeks ago. He said they are still pursuing the expansion.

“We are in constant contact with ICE and U.S. Marshals as far as how we can renew and expand the contracts we currently have and that's the route we'll continue to go until we have another avenue presented to us,” he said.

The current contract is set to expire in 2023. The jail is equipped to house about 300 ICE detainees at a time.

Sherburne County seeks ICE contract to nearly double capacity for detainees

The federal agency pays the county $100 per bed day.

“We feel it’s a valuable service that needs to be provided to the inmates and detainees, it’s a valuable partnership with our federal partners and it's a benefit to the taxpayers of Sherburne County,” said Dolan.

The proposed expansion was expected to create about 60 jobs and generate additional revenue for the jail and county projects.

“It’s on the backs of a system where kids are dying and families are torn apart,” said Bob Hassett, who lives in the county.

He has spoken out against the expansion.

“What really bothered me was the lack of transparency and then you hear the stories of these people,” he said. “They're just trying to make a living and they want a path to citizenship, which we have denied them.”

Hassett said there hasn’t been enough opportunity for public comment throughout the RFP process, including this decision to move forward with the expansion anyway.

“It completely goes around the RFP process,” he said. “It sounds like they're trying to sneak it through and that bothers me a lot.”

Sherburne County proposes expanding jail to house more immigrant detainees

A spokesperson for ICE wouldn't comment.

Commissioner Dolan said Congress Members Ilhan Omar and Tom Emmer toured the jail on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Rep. Emmer said the Congressman supports an expansion.

KSTP hasn't heard back from Rep. Omar.

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Callan Gray

Copyright 2019 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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