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Nesquehoning mayor thanks county for attempting to certify prison

Published August 06. 2010 05:00PM

An area mayor said he will help Carbon County officials as they work to become certified to detain illegal immigrants until Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials can pick them up.

During the county commissioners' meeting on Thursday, Nesquehoning Mayor Tony Walck thanked the board for their efforts to date.

"I'm here today to thank the commissioners and commend the commissioners and the prison board and prison officials for taking the initiative to get Carbon County recertified for the ICE program," he said. "As you know it causes hardships in the boroughs in Carbon County. I would like to offer any help I can give the board or commissioners."

He said he would write letters to area politicians; as well as urge fellow mayors and police departments to do the same.

Commissioner William O'Gurek, chairman, said he appreciates Walck's efforts and that the county is working to try and make this change happen.

"We have had some communications between the prison and ICE but unfortunately, at this point, their position is that they're satisfied with the number of facilities that are able to accept ICE detainees and they don't care to certify us."

He noted that Carbon County can apply for recertification at ICE's new fiscal year, which is Oct. 1.

Commissioner Wayne Nothstein added that the commissioners need everyone's help on this matter because the commissioners are not enough.

"It's going to have to be people like you, the mayors, the police departments, the judges, etc. that are going to have to scream bloody murder at our elected officials to change those laws," he said. "We can't do it alone."

Walck agreed with Nothstein and said he will do everything in his power to help resolve the issue at hand.

Currently, if a police department arrests an illegal immigrant, officers are forced to transport that individual to the closest ICE certified facility, which is located in Scranton.

In some cases, when an officer has to transport an illegal individual to Scranton, that leaves a borough completely unprotected for hours since some smaller municipalities have only one officer on at a time.

The issue of Carbon County not being certified came up last Wednesday, during the monthly meeting of the prison board.

During the meeting, the board discussed an e-mail which they received from ICE, stating that they are not allowed to accept detainees and hold them for transport.

At that time, the board said they are not happy with the situation and will work to fix it because it is a burden on the police departments, the prison, and taxpayers.

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