OGDEN -- U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano today to look into recent federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement audits that resulted in the removal of 32 ICE detainees from the Weber County Jail.
"I'm all for good conditions in our jails," Hatch said in a phone interview. "If they are good enough for U.S. inmates, they should be good enough for criminal aliens."
Hatch said he is cautiously optimistic that Napolitano will explore what jails such as the one in Weber County can do to comply with costly or onerous ICE detention standards.
"This administration ( of President Obama) has not been good about getting back to Congress with more information, but I will stay on them," he said.
Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson said his agency asked Hatch to provide assistance regarding the ICE audit.
Jail officials were informed in September by ICE that the facility didn't pass annual audits and that requirements outlined in the reports are non-negotiable.
For example, ICE mandates that its detainees don't undergo strip searches, don't have to pay the $10 co-pays for medical treatment, can't have their mail read like other inmates and deserve their own barbershop.
Weber Couty Sheriff's Officials officials say they can't and won't comply with such directives for the small group of 30 to 60 inmates held at any given time at the jail that routinely houses almost 900 because it would amount to disparate treatment.
Losing the detainees could result in a loss ranging from $800,000 to $1.5 million annually to the sheriff's office budget, Thompson said.