Doing the Math on Beds for Feds

It appears that the daily rate the federal government is willing to pay for housing undocumented immigrants in Orange County is…undocumented.

Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is relying on a $20 million infusion of cash from the federal government to help her balance the Sheriff Department’s budget for the next fiscal year.

The key to getting that cash is using local jails to house undocumented immigrants being detained by the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).

Sheriff’s officials have said they are currently negotiating with ICE on what is know as “beds for feds” — but ICE is staying mum.

“We aren’t really confirming that we’re in discussions with Orange County,” said ICE Spokeswoman Virginia Kice.

County supervisors, meanwhile, have been dubious on whether the savings are there. In essence, they wonder how can you make money on housing immigrants?

Hutchens argues that the $20 million number is based on the reimbursement rate that ICE pays for each immigrant. ICE said those rates vary on the facility.

So what rate is the $20 million estimate on savinga based on?

No comment is the answer coming out the Sheriff’s department.

“The per-bed, per-night reimbursement has to be as high as possible and has to recover costs. I don’t know what that number is,” said County CEO Tom Mauk.

Apparently, there’s a wide disparity, according to ICE figures. In LA, the Sheriff’s department gets $113.86 a head — but in Santa Ana, it costs only $82.