Mesa jail can’t hold illegals |

Mesa jail can’t hold illegals

Marija B. Vader
Grand Junction correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” When eight people were detained early Wednesday morning and transferred into the custody of the Immigration Customs Enforcement, they were sent to the Mesa County Jail.

If those eight people were caught today, they’d likely be turned away from Mesa County.

Thursday, Mesa County was informed by the federal agency that the facility the county uses to house illegal aliens doesn’t meet federal standards.

Prior to Thursday, the illegals stayed in a secured, carpeted gymnasium fitted with cots and with tables, showers, and rest rooms, said Heather Benjamin, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department. The gym had been used by the county to house county inmates for its weekender program.

“It’s just one big room instead of cells and cots instead of beds,” Benjamin said.

“If it meets the standard for our local convicted criminals to stay there, it should meet the standard for illegals,” Benjamin said Thursday. “It’s the only place we have. Our jail cells are all full with our local criminals.”

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Mesa County contracts with the federal agency to house the illegal aliens for slightly more than $62 a day, she said. Inmates cost about $52 a day to house, clothe, feed, supervise, and process, she said.

“By the time you add that extra workload, at best it comes out in the wash,” she said. “The sheriff has said we probably lose a little bit of money … but we want to have a collaborative effort to rid our country of illegals.”

The ICE and Mesa County still have a contract, and “they’ll start bringing detainees back, once we meet their standard,” Benjamin said.

The eight illegal aliens Wednesday were originally detained in Garfield County, said Carl Rusnok, ICE spokesman.

They were transferred to Mesa County and eventually transferred to an immigration center in Aurora, Rusnok said.

Detained were Hugo Sanchez-Sanchez, Jindrich Subrt, Luis Valdez-Bonilla, Jesus Hernandez-Rivera, Manuel Quisquina, Santos Garcia-Zurito, Rolando Martinez-Sonda, and Rosendo Guevaro-Chicas.

From now on, detained illegals will be transported to Moffat or Park counties or to the Aurora immigration center.

“They won’t come to us,” Benjamin said.

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