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Forum will examine undocumented detainees in county



Recorder Staff
Friday, August 11, 2017

GREENFIELD — The town’s Human Rights Commission will hold a public forum Monday to inform the community about the status of undocumented immigrants being held at the Franklin County Jail.

“There is obviously a question about undocumented detainees in the community, so we wanted to give the Sheriff’s Department and the community a chance to find out from one another what their concerns are and what is actually going on at the Franklin County House of Correction,” Commission Chairman Philippe Simon said. “It’s a great opportunity for people to find out what kind of resources are available for the undocumented detainees, what their condition is and what their status is in relation to utilizing the services that other inmates have there.”

The forum will take place in the Planning Office, 114 Main St., at 6 p.m. According to Simon, the sheriff’s office will make a short presentation addressing concerns about detainees, listen to comments and answer questions during the meeting. The Human Rights Commission, along with the general public, will make inquiries.

In June, the nine-member commission passed a unanimous motion to form a committee and begin a formal inquiry into the matter.

The Franklin County Jail has regularly housed about 75 undocumented immigrants for years. All were brought in from around the country though an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Contract.

Money from the federal government has supplemented state money for operation of the Elm Street jail and house of correction. Most recently, ICE paid about $3 million to the state for using the Greenfield jail — about $1 million of which goes toward the jail’s budget.

The ICE detainees held at the jail are usually being held pending deportation, following a final judge’s order. Sheriff Christopher Donelan, back in February, said his officers are not trained to be ICE agents, nor does he or his staff plan on training to be ones.

The Human Rights Commission will also review the mayor’s recent executive order about the town’s status as a “safe community” for immigrants and introduce a study on if and how gentrification affects rental rate increases and housing costs in Greenfield, as well as an examination of income disparity between jobs in the public and private sector.