From the Federation for American Immigration Reform, (FAIR), to me, to you.
Hope Phil Gordon reads this.
There's no such thing as a free sanctuary
By: Barbara Hollingsworth Local Opinion EditorApril 13, 2010
Virginia's Prince William County was vilified three years ago for being the first jurisdiction in the region to assist federal immigration officials in identifying and detaining illegal immigrants accused of crimes so they could be deported.
Since then, public pressure forced most of the other counties surrounding Washington to quietly follow suit. Not Montgomery County. Instead, it's defiantly sweeping off its "Welcome" mat and inviting illegal immigrants to "come on in."
But the county's acclaimed sanctuary policy doesn't come cheap. An estimated $243 million is spent annually on low-income housing, medical care, public education, and other human services for the county's illegal immigrant population, including the cost of maintaining foreign-born criminals in its correctional facilities.
Unlike neighboring Frederick and Prince George's counties, Montgomery still refuses to send the names of all arrestees to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless they are charged with a violent crime such as murder, rape or armed robbery.
Otherwise, "ICE will NOT be contacted, regardless of the individual's legal status and/or gang affiliation," county spokesman Patrick Lacefield emphatically told the Washington Examiner's Hayley Petersen.
Since the Maryland State's Attorney's Office estimates that there are 40 active gangs operating in Montgomery County alone, that means that hundreds of gang members know they will not be deported -- even if they are busted for selling drugs, stealing cars or other serious offenses.
Between 2000 and 2008, Maryland's foreign-born population grew 34.6 percent, while the native-born population increased just 3.3 percent, according to a new study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Costs (about $790 per household) are concentrated in places like Montgomery County with high illegal immigrant populations.
Of course, not all the county's 3,300 or so inmates are here illegally, but since Montgomery refuses to participate in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement's 287(g) program, there's no way of knowing exactly how many currently in the system lack legal presence.
County taxpayers are billed $157 a day (or $57,305 per year) for each inmate regardless. By contrast, the county spends $82 per day on each public school student.
There's a reason incarceration costs so much. A list of Montgomery County employees obtained by the Examiner under the Freedom of Information Act shows that the 541 employees in the county's Department of Corrections are paid handsomely, making an average of $80,000.
The annual salary of Corrections Director Arthur Wallenstein, who denied a previous Examiner request for statistics on the number of illegal inmates in custody, is $210,621, and 21 of his top managers each make more than $100,000 per year.
Other salaries range from an intake processing aide's $35,691 per year plus $10,802 in overtime, to the $98,513 plus $1,916 in overtime paid to a corrections specialist V.
Correctional Officer III Cpl. Paul Miller wracked up an unimaginable amount of overtime pay ($62,048) that was almost as much as his annual base salary ($70,758). The 1,202 hours of OT Miller reported (at $51.62 an hour) represent more than half of the 2,000 hours in a year's worth of typical 40-hour workweeks with two weeks off for vacation.
Miller's fellow Correctional Officer III Cpl. Roger Castell logged in even more OT (1,249 hours), adding $55,241 to his base salary of $61,660.
In fact, 366 correctional employees -- more than half of Wallenstein's entire staff -- reported working more than 100 hours of overtime last year, beefing up their paychecks and future retirement accounts while depleting the county's coffers.
With a budget gap of $779 million, an unemployment rate of 6.2 percent, and credit rating agencies threatening to downgrade its bond offerings, Montgomery can no longer afford to feed and house criminals who don't even belong in the United States.
Montgomery County is indeed a sanctuary. But not for taxpayers.
Barbara F. Hollingsworth is the Washington Examiner's local opinion editor.