Youngstown prison holds largest number of detained immigrants in Ohio

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Each year thousands of non-U.S. citizens are detained in this country. Some have crossed the border illegally, others were under orders of supervision and some came here seeking asylum.

These detainees are held in prisons all over the United States.

The one that houses the most in Ohio, is right here in Youngstown, according to Elizabeth Knowles, assistant clinical professor of law and director of the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at the University of Akron School of Law.

The Northeast Ohio Correctional Center is located on Hubbard Rd. It houses more than 300 immigrants.

Some detainees were flown to Youngstown from other parts of the country, including the US-Mexico border. Others were detained during raids of local businesses.

In total, Knowles says there are roughly 560 non-US citizens being detained in four different detention centers in Ohio.

There are different cases in which a person can be detained and sent to the prison. In some cases, a person may have come to the United States illegally.

Pastor Manuel Lux of Iglesia Esperanza de Vida in Salem says there are reasons why a person may choose to leave their home country and come here. He says safety and poverty are the two biggest. Many people from countries like Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries in Central America fear for their safety and the safety of their children. Lux says they also don’t have the same daily resources as Americans, such as electricity or running water. Education is not always available in other countries, so many people may not have the knowledge of the legal process to come to the United States.

In June 2018, ICE arrested more than 100 Freshmark employees in Salem. They were accused of being undocumented immigrants. Later, more than 60 were released, some of whom were here legally but didn’t have documentation on them at the time of the arrest.

Freshmark is a meat processing company.

Many of the people who were arrested were taken to the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center as well.

In other cases, some immigrants had previously been granted what is known as an order of supervision. This means that person was granted limited time to stay in the country. He or she must check in regularly with an immigration officer during this time.

However, since the Trump administration began, many people under orders of supervision were arrested and ordered to be deported.

“They had been living here in the United States under orders of supervision for decades. They had built businesses, had families,” Knowles said.

Knowles says some people were placed under orders of supervision because they weren’t able to return to their home countries, possibly because the country didn’t have a repatriation

agreement with the US. For those who are not able to return to their home country, but do not have clearance to live among the community, there isn’t much hope.

“The Supreme Court recently ruled that potentially, you could be detained indefinitely,” Knowles said.

A third reason a person may have come to the US and is now in a detention center, is that they came here seeking asylum. Knowles says most of the detainees in the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center are asylum seekers.

“Why do we have asylum seekers in Northeast Ohio? When they’re coming up from the southern border, how did they get here? Why do they come here? How long does it take for a case to be processed?” she said.

Knowles says that there is a removal process for non-U.S. citizens who are detained. But that process can sometimes take years.

She also says it is difficult for those who are detained to get help with the legal process in order to get clearance for release. With no money, family or resources many of the detainees are left 

in prison with no foresight of how to get out.

According to ICE’s FY 2018 budget, on average it costs $133.99 a day to maintain one adult detention bed. A family bed, where a mother and children are kept together is more than $300 per person per day, and a tent bed, where children are separated from their mothers is almost $800 per person per day, according to an article published by CNBC.

Brandon Bissell, the manager of public affairs at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center told us the standard of treatment of the detainees are set forth by ICE and they do not interact with inmates at the center. He says they are housed separately.

WKBN online tried several times to contact an ICE representative from the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, but we have not heard back.

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