STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — Burnet County Jail officials have reported a spike in the number of inmates in April and May on immigration holds due to an “overcrowding” issue in detention facilities near the South Texas border.
At one point during the first week in May, the population reached 500 in the 587-capacity jail, 900 County Lane in Burnet.
“This is unusual,” Burnet County Sheriff Calvin Boyd said. “The ICE detainers have more than doubled.”
The sheriff was referring to the monthly average of Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees who Burnet County houses.
The majority of the recent ICE detainees have entered the country illegally from Central American countries such as El Salvador and Honduras, Boyd said.
The local influx started during the last week in April with ICE detainees typically staying at the Burnet County Jail for about 48 hours.
The county receives $59.26 per inmate per day for inmates under federal jurisdiction compared to $45 per day for out-of-county contracts to hold overflow inmates from area jurisdictions.
Officials said the majority of the recent detainees were transported from the Port Isabel Service Processing and Detention Center in Los Fresnos.
“It’s an overcrowding issue down there,” Boyd said. “I’m not sure how long this is going to last.”
Local officials could not confirm whether any of the ICE detainees were associated with the influx of Central American asylum seekers recently processed at the U.S.-Mexico border.
A comment by the ICE Public Affairs Office, under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Justice, is pending.
Burnet County officials said they will continue to cooperate with ICE authorities to assist with detainees.
“We just happen to be one of the facilities that’s big enough to hold them temporarily,” Boyd said.