Additional detained undocumented immigrants may arrive at the Albany County jail today.
So far, about three dozen immigrants detained by the federal government are being held at Albany County jail. And Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Wednesday morning more may be on the way.
“I have a bunch of immigrants, unfortunately, being brought in today. But at this point right now I don’t know what they’re sending me. I just know that I have a few dozen coming in. But it’s also not…Homeland Security tells me this all the time, but I don’t get them. So we are preparing for them,” said Apple.
Preparations are being made both inside and outside Albany County Correctional Facility.
Albany Law School Professor Sarah Rogerson directs the Immigration Law Clinic, which works with community partners such as the Legal Project to connect detainees at the jail with legal services.
“Basically it’s an intake and referral program, but given the influx of detainees and transfers to the Albany County jail, we’re going to try to scale that up and see what additional services we can provide,” said Rogerson.
Rogerson said the Immigration Law Clinic is working to bring more volunteers on board now that additional detainees are on the way.
“Last night I drafted a training, an online training for attorneys and interpreters who can give us some of our time. And we have volunteers from really all over the country. We have a volunteer coordinator working remotely in Louisiana who is contacting volunteers and matching them with detainees in the jail,” said Rogerson.
Sheriff Apple said the new wave of detainees, which could number up to 100, includes individuals charged with low-level offenses from several nations including but not limited to China, India, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Knowing where the detainees originated, Apple says the jail can help by bringing in interpreters.
“I think we can do a lot of good things for these folks. They’re going somewhere, Lucas. They’re going somewhere. And quite frankly the last place I’d want to see them is a hot tent in the desert,” said Apple.
The jail itself, says Apple, is now at low capacity. He says phone lines and video calling capabilities have been added to help detainees contact relatives.
“They can have a face-to-face. That usually relieves a lot of stressors. We have got the free legal services coming in. I think we can do something positive, and that’s the only reason we’re getting involved in this. And the silver lining for Albany County is they could make millions,” said Apple.
The federal government pays Albany County $119 for each detained immigrant a day.
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat, says she was unaware of anyone from the City of Albany being held by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. She spoke Wednesday morning before an immigration at The Linda, WAMC’s performing arts studio.
“And that is something that would, again, of course, if that were to occur, certainly be something of concern to us and we would want to make sure that if they have family members in the city of Albany that they know that this is a safe place and we want to provide them with the support that we can provide them through the process,” said Sheehan.
At a time when thousands have been separated from their families at the southern border, state Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, an Albany Democrat, is calling for national immigration reform.
“I am still outraged. There just aren’t strong enough terms. At the same time, in terms of Albany, I appreciate the sheriff’s frankness and I appreciate…he runs a good shop over there and I fully take him at his word that those that are being housed will be well-treated, that he is working well with Albany Law, the Legal Project, the immigration services there.”
The Albany Law School Clinic and Justice Center and Legal Project are partially funded with public dollars.
“However, I would be remiss if I didn’t say I am just troubled overall that we are participating in any form of this what I think is a bankrupt immigration policy on the part of the Trump Administration,” said Fahy.