Wood River Valley officials debate over funding for jailed undocumented migrants

The State Criminal Alien Assistance Program is in question
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:18 PM MDT
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BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — A discussion at a Blaine County Commissioners meeting has caught the attention of Blaine County Sheriff Steve Harkins.

The board heard comments regarding the County’s acceptance of State Criminal Alien Assistance Program funding.

Sheriff Harkins took to Facebook saying: “The Blaine County Board of Commissioners heard from five members of the public who felt that the County should not accept these funds as they felt it promotes racial profiling.’”

Those speaking out against the funding, and its inherent relationship with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, say it’s not a matter of racial profiling, but rather an issue of clarity for the undocumented residents of Blaine County.

“Whether it’s victims of domestic violence, if it’s just a misdemeanor, if it’s a speeding ticket, whatever it may be, a lot of people just have a lot of concern of (sic) ICE being there when they go to court,” said Jennifer Rangel from the Bellevue City Council.

Sheriff Harkins went on to say: “The real issue at hand is that the Blaine County Board of Commissioners and a segment of our community don’t agree with the fact that, at my direction, the Blaine County Detention Center cooperates with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”

Rangel countered that sentiment, saying it’s not as much about the relationship existing, but the uncertainty surrounding it.

“As attorneys, as public servants, we would like to know what that relationship looks like in (of) itself,” he said.

Justin McCarthy spoke at the commissioner’s meeting. He and Rangel say they hope the sheriff will choose to attend future meetings, saying an open discussion would allow for a compromise to be met.

“Usually, social media commentary doesn’t end in much productivity. But, I think, if we can have a transparent public discussion, and include the public and all the stakeholders, we have a good chance at doing something productive,” he said.

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