TSA Can’t Manage To Remove American Children And Lawmakers From Its Error Filled “No Fly List” But Thinks It Can Keep Its Employees Off “Controversial” Web Sites While At Work

July 6, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is blocking certain websites from the federal agency’s computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain a “controversial opinion,” according to an internal email obtained by CBS News.

The email was sent to all TSA employees from the Office of Information Technology on Friday afternoon.

It states that as of July 1, TSA employees will no longer be allowed to access five categories of websites that have been deemed “inappropriate for government access.”

The categories include:

? Chat/Messaging

? Controversial opinion

? Criminal activity

? Extreme violence (including cartoon violence) and gruesome content

? Gaming

The email does not specify how the TSA will determine if a website expresses a “controversial opinion.”

There is also no explanation as to why controversial opinions are being blocked, although the email stated that some of the restricted websites violate the Employee Responsibilities and Conduct policy.

The TSA did not return calls seeking comment by publication time.

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Government Red Tape In US Sends Latest US Green Technology And Jobs To Red China

June 17, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – Chuck Provini, a former Marine with no fewer than 19 military decorations, considers himself a “good American and a patriot.”

He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, served as a Marine Corps captain in the Vietnam War and has lived his whole life in the United States. But now that he’s the president of a growing solar technology start-up, he’s finding himself in a difficult position: He must leave the United States behind.

His company, Natcore Technology, based in Red Bank, N.J., holds the license to technology that makes solar panels cheaper, more efficient and less toxic to the environment. He said he tried to commercialize the technology domestically, but while bureaucracy and red tape stalled talks with state and federal officials, conversations with Chinese officials sped ahead.

“The Chinese have a major, aggressive movement to increase the technology in the photovoltaic area,” he said. “They picked up the phone and called us and said, ‘What do you do?'”

At the time of this story’s publication, he’s in Zhuzhou city in China’s Hunan province, on the verge of signing a deal that will commercialize the technology overseas, giving the Chinese economy a boost and Chinese workers more jobs.

Obama: China Is Investing in Clean Energy Jobs That Should Be in the U.S.

“We wanted to do business in the United States and we went to different agencies and we said, ‘Here’s what we have going on in China. Can you help us replicate this?'” he said. “And, frankly, we kind of rang on deaf ears.”

In his address from the Oval Office Tuesday night, President Obama used the backdrop of the massive BP oil spill to push a clean energy agenda.

“The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America,” he said.

But what is China doing that the United States isn’t? And what do we need to do to keep up?

Provini, whose company licenses technology developed at Houston’s Rice University, said that for about a year, he went back and forth with representatives at the Ohio Department of Development. He said he also worked with a major Washington, D.C., law firm and was told that a $750,000 application fee was necessary just to apply for a specific federal program.

Solar Energy Company: We Didn’t Call China, They Called Us

When he tried to work with elected officials for guidance on how to grow his business, he said he rarely got past staff members.

Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of the Ohio Department of Development, said she couldn’t comment directly on Natcore, but said that her office supports hundreds of new technology ventures each year.

Provini said, “The Chinese were just so aggressive. We didn’t contact them, they contacted us.”

Officials responsible for developing China’s clean and alternative energy program in the Hunan province learned about Natcore through a mutual contact at the University of Wales and placed a call, he said.

Then they flew Provini to China and helped him find a production partner that will provide capital and manufacturing capabilities. In the next three to six months, he said, they could move into the manufacturing phase, which could create 250-400 jobs.

“They’ve cut through the red tape to be responsive,” he said. “It’s almost embarrassing that whatever you ask for, they deliver it.”

Clean Energy Sector to Reach $200 Billion in 2010

Since 2005, investments in the clean energy sector have grown 230 percent, according to the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program. In 2009, $162 billion was invested in clean energy globally and analysts forecast that investments will climb 25 percent to $200 billion in 2010.

But despite the opportunities in the fast-growing industry, experts say the United States continues to lag behind countries such as China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany and Spain.

“The U.S. is missing the boat,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Environment Group Climate and Energy Program in Washington. In 2009, she said, China attracted $34.6 billion in clean energy investments, more than any other country. The United States attracted $18.6 billion, about half of China’s total, she said.

When you look at the winners in this race, Cuttino said, they all have one key feature in common: a national clean energy policy.

The countries dominating the clean energy landscape have national policies to reduce global warming pollution and provide incentives for companies to use renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, but she said the United States only had a “patchwork” of state policies.

State Development Agencies Promote Small Clean Energy Start-Ups

“We have a well-educated [population], a manufacturing base,” she said. “We basically have all of the necessary ingredients to capitalize on a clean energy policy, but we need a policy.”

The Ohio Department of Development’s Patt-McDaniel said that with investments ranging from $50,000 to as much as $1 million, the Ohio Third Frontier program funds clean energy, biomedical, polymer and other high-tech projects to help them eventually commercialize and create jobs.

“Our partner organizations at the local level … take these kinds of entrepreneurial companies and match them to potential partner investors,” she said. She said development officials could also help small companies find production partners that could take the venture to the next level.

Real Progress Needs Federal Action, Experts Say

But though state development agencies across the country may support small business following Obama’s mandate to develop clean energy, experts say real progress will only come from federal action.

“The clean technology sector is the fastest growing business sector in the global economy and the U.S. cannot afford to lose our competitive edge with China and other countries when it comes to the fastest growing sector in the global economy,” said Howard Learner, president and executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center in Chicago.

While one small business doesn’t necessarily prove a trend, he said the bottom line is that the United States is running the risk of missing out on the next economic driver.

“Clean energy and climate legislation before Congress would put us on the right track, but it’s been mired in both Republican political opposition and opposition from old economy industries,” he said.

Obama’s decision to enact a series of renewable energy tax credits in 2009 was a good start, he said, but they all expire by the end of this year and should be extended.

He also said that while 30 states have renewable energy standards requiring utilities to purchase an increased percentage of power from renewable sources, Learner, like Pew’s Cuttino, said a national standard is critical.

U.S. Companies Want ‘T.L.C.’

It would not only expand the market across all states and make a level playing field, it would make the market more predictable and reliable over the long-term, which would spur development, he said.

Learner also said that putting a price on carbon is key to driving the market for renewable investment, manufacturing and deployment.

But in the absence of a market created by a carbon cap and other national policies, more and more companies like Provini’s are looking to other shores for opportunity.

“There’s a whole long list of American companies that have gone to China,” Cuttino said. “[And] lots of companies sitting on the sidelines in the U.S. They’re waiting for what they call T.L.C. — transparency, longevity and consistency.”

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Scam By Military Prosecutor And Judge Sends Sex Offender Doctor To Jail For Just 7 Days – At Least 23 Victims, Some Of Whom Have A Problem With Doctor Receiving Less Than A Slap On The Wrist

June 6, 2010

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, JAPAN — Victims of convicted sex offender Lt. Cmdr. Anthony L. Velasquez say they are furious at the Navy for letting the disgraced doctor off with what they perceive as a light sentence — and then misleading them into thinking the sentence had been much tougher.

At least 23 women had alleged that Velasquez sexually violated them after they sought medical treatment in two locations, at Japan’s Naval Air Facility Atsugi branch clinic in 2007 and 2008 and Kuwait’s Camp Arifjan clinic between December 2008 and June 2009.

On May 26, Velasquez pleaded guilty at a Yokosuka Naval Base court-martial to two counts of wrongful sexual contact and two counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. In exchange for those guilty pleas, under the terms of a pretrial plea agreement negotiated between the Judge Advocate General’s Office and the defense, prosecutors dropped 29 other counts of sexual misconduct and related charges leveled against Velasquez by his former patients.

Military judge Cmdr. David Berger sentenced Velasquez to two years in prison, a $28,000 fine, dismissal from the Navy and forfeiture of all pay and allowances, but the convening authority suspended the prison sentence and fine in accordance with the pretrial agreement. Instead, Velasquez spent just seven days in the Yokosuka Naval Base brig.

But a post-trial e-mail sent to victims by the JAG office left some with the impression that Velasquez would suffer a much harsher fate.

The May 26 e-mail stated that “the judge awarded a sentence of 24 months, a $28,000 fine to be paid right away or else an additional 6 months would be imposed, total forfeitures of pay, and most iportantly [sic], a DISMISSAL from the Navy.”

The e-mail made no mention of the plea agreement. Nor did it state that the judge’s sentence had been largely set aside because of the plea deal. Unless Velasquez violates the terms of the plea agreement and commits another crime, he won’t go to federal prison or pay any penalties.

Stars and Stripes contacted seven of the women whose complaints led to charges against Velasquez. Three said they did not fully understand what happened.

“I was confused when I read the [May 26] Stars and Stripes article, and it said that none of the punishment set would be happening unless he committed another crime … so I guess I don’t even know what his actual punishment is,” said an enlisted soldier whom Velasquez was convicted of molesting while she was a patient at Camp Arifjan. “It’s all been very unclear to me. I ask questions, and a lot of them don’t get answered.”

Capt. Rex Guinn, commander of Regional Legal Service Office Japan and the ranking officer copied on the JAG e-mail, said the victims were offered the right to choose whether they wanted to be notified of a plea agreement as part of the Victim-Witness Assistance Program. Neither Guinn nor any of the attorneys copied on the e-mail sent a follow-up e-mail to the full group of victims to clarify the decision.

“It was a wrap-up providing the 2703 form,” said Guinn, referring to a form that explains the post-trial rights of victims. “That was the intent of the communication.”

The victims are free to lodge an official complaint if they believe they were misled, Navy spokesman Cmdr. Ron Steiner said. As of Friday afternoon, no one had done so, he said.

Two of the victims that Stars and Stripes interviewed said that prosecutor Lt. Emily Dewey, the author of the e-mail message, explained the plea deal to them after they sent her private replies about the confusing message.

Another victim said she did not blame Dewey for the misleading e-mail “because it didn’t sound like her at all.”

That victim said Dewey had told her about the impending plea deal days before the final hearing. Before the deal was made, she said, Dewey had expressed her eagerness to fight the complete case in a trial.

Dewey could not be reached for comment Friday, but told Stars and Stripes last week that all requests for comment should be referred to her superiors.

Among the seven women interviewed, two expressed some satisfaction that Velasquez had been found guilty, along with relief that the trial had concluded.

However, all expressed dismay over the terms of the plea deal, which most called “a slap on the wrist.”

Velasquez was released from the brig earlier this week and was walking around base at Atsugi on Wednesday, according to Navy officials.

“It feels like, because we’re military, there is no justice and that he’s getting away with it,” said one of the victims. “Had we been in the civilian world, he’d be in jail for a long time.

“But that’s not the case in the military, where the higher-ups make that decision,” she continued. “It’s another slap on the hand. It’s appalling. You know you’re going to suffer the rest of your life, and he’s just going to lose his license. Are you kidding me? It doesn’t make up for what he did.”

Many of the women visited Velasquez for common maladies such as neck and sinus pain. But, according to evidence and court testimony, Velasquez, 48, used his ungloved hands to fondle their genitals while purporting to check their lymph nodes.

“For me, this is yet another example of the military protecting officer positions from disciplinary action,” another victim said. “Have an enlisted man do the same thing, the sentence would have been much harsher.”

Steiner, the Navy spokesman, emphasized that Velasquez will have to register as a sex offender when he returns to the United States. His medical credentials also will be subject to revocation by a civilian medical body, and he will be dismissed from the Navy–the harshest type of discharge available in that service.

“That’s the equivalent of a dishonorable discharge,” Steiner said. “These are serious outcomes.”

The case must now be authenticated, which includes transcription and review of the proceedings by attorneys. It is then forwarded for approval to the convening authority, which in this case is the Naval Forces Japan commander, Rear Adm. Richard Wren.

Wren can make the sentence more lenient but he cannot make it any harsher.

“The convening authority can order a rehearing to the findings … but I’ve never seen it happen,” Guinn said.

Following Wren’s decision, the case is subject to appeal.

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100’s Of Millions Of US Taxpayer Dollars Wasted On Bush’s Tortue Prisons And Guantanamo Bay Base

June 6, 2010

GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — At the U.S. naval station here, a handsome electronic sign hangs between two concrete pillars. In yellow enamel against a blue metal backdrop is a map of Cuba, the “Pearl of the Antilles,” above flashing time and temperature readings.

“Welcome Aboard,” the sign says.

The cost of the marquee, along with a smaller sign positioned near the airfield: $188,000. Among other odd legacies from war-on-terror spending since 2001 for the troops at Guantanamo Bay: an abandoned volleyball court for $249,000, an unused go-kart track for $296,000 and $3.5 million for 27 playgrounds that are often vacant.

The Pentagon also spent $683,000 to renovate a cafe that sells ice cream and Starbucks coffee, and $773,000 to remodel a cinder-block building to house a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant.

The spending is part of at least $500 million that has transformed what was once a sun-beaten and forgotten Caribbean base into one of the most secure military and prison installations in the world. That does not include construction bonuses, which typically run into the millions.

Also not included are annual operating costs of $150 million — double the amount for a comparable U.S. prison, according to the White House. Add in clandestine black-budget items, such as the top-secret Camp 7 prison for high-value detainees, aptly nicknamed Camp Platinum, and the post-Sept. 11, 2001, bill for the 45-square-mile base easily soars toward $2 billion.

The Obama administration wants to close the detention operation and relocate it to a prison in Illinois, but the prospect of seeing the final detainees depart seems increasingly like a long-term project. If the president does succeed, the Pentagon will leave behind a newly remodeled military encampment, along with numerous questions about whether the cost of creating what then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld once called the “least worst place” for suspected terrorists was worth the price.

In the first public accounting of how much has been spent on the base since the first detainees arrived in January 2002, The Washington Post obtained from the military a line-by-line breakdown of capital expenditures, ranging from the mundane to the exotic.

Overall, the prison camp operation that hugs the Caribbean coastline cost about $220 million to build over several years, a price that does not include Camp 7, which holds 16 of the most notorious detainees, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. And $13 million was spent to construct a courthouse complex that appears custom-designed for Mohammed and his four co-defendants.

But as spending accelerated over the years, and more and more construction and renovation contracts were awarded, the number of detainees steadily declined, from a peak of 680 in May 2003 to 181 now.

Many of the projects itemized in the breakdown are reminders of suburban America — familiar settings re-created in a Caribbean hothouse to comfort the military personnel and contractors who run detainee operations.

Millions went to build artificial-turf football and baseball fields that professional players would envy, surrounded by a cluster of facilities, including a running track, a skate park, an outdoor roller hockey rink and batting cages.

[Story Continues On Original Site Below]

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When Cameras Are Outlawed Only The Outlaws Will Have Cameras

June 3, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.

Even if the encounter involves you and may be necessary to your defense, and even if the recording is on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists.

The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

Massachusetts attorney June Jensen represented Simon Glik who was arrested for such a recording. She explained, “[T]he statute has been misconstrued by Boston police. You could go to the Boston Common and snap pictures and record if you want.” Legal scholar and professor Jonathan Turley agrees, “The police are basing this claim on a ridiculous reading of the two-party consent surveillance law – requiring all parties to consent to being taped. I have written in the area of surveillance law and can say that this is utter nonsense.”

The courts, however, disagree. A few weeks ago, an Illinois judge rejected a motion to dismiss an eavesdropping charge against Christopher Drew, who recorded his own arrest for selling one-dollar artwork on the streets of Chicago. Although the misdemeanor charges of not having a peddler’s license and peddling in a prohibited area were dropped, Drew is being prosecuted for illegal recording, a Class I felony punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.

In 2001, when Michael Hyde was arrested for criminally violating the state’s electronic surveillance law – aka recording a police encounter – the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction 4-2. In dissent, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall stated, “Citizens have a particularly important role to play when the official conduct at issue is that of the police. Their role cannot be performed if citizens must fear criminal reprisals….” (Note: In some states it is the audio alone that makes the recording illegal.)

The selection of “shooters” targeted for prosecution do, indeed, suggest a pattern of either reprisal or an attempt to intimidate.

Glik captured a police action on his cellphone to document what he considered to be excessive force. He was not only arrested, his phone was also seized.

On his website Drew wrote, “Myself and three other artists who documented my actions tried for two months to get the police to arrest me for selling art downtown so we could test the Chicago peddlers license law. The police hesitated for two months because they knew it would mean a federal court case. With this felony charge they are trying to avoid this test and ruin me financially and stain my credibility.”

Hyde used his recording to file a harassment complaint against the police. After doing so, he was criminally charged.

In short, recordings that are flattering to the police – an officer kissing a baby or rescuing a dog – will almost certainly not result in prosecution even if they are done without all-party consent. The only people who seem prone to prosecution are those who embarrass or confront the police, or who somehow challenge the law. If true, then the prosecutions are a form of social control to discourage criticism of the police or simple dissent.

A recent arrest in Maryland is both typical and disturbing.

On March 5, 24-year-old Anthony John Graber III’s motorcycle was pulled over for speeding. He is currently facing criminal charges for a video he recorded on his helmet-mounted camera during the traffic stop.

The case is disturbing because:

1) Graber was not arrested immediately. Ten days after the encounter, he posted some of he material to YouTube, and it embarrassed Trooper J. D. Uhler. The trooper, who was in plainclothes and an unmarked car, jumped out waving a gun and screaming. Only later did Uhler identify himself as a police officer. When the YouTube video was discovered the police got a warrant against Graber, searched his parents’ house (where he presumably lives), seized equipment, and charged him with a violation of wiretapping law.

2) Baltimore criminal defense attorney Steven D. Silverman said he had never heard of the Maryland wiretap law being used in this manner. In other words, Maryland has joined the expanding trend of criminalizing the act of recording police abuse. Silverman surmises, “It’s more [about] ‘contempt of cop’ than the violation of the wiretapping law.”

3) Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley is defending the pursuit of charges against Graber, denying that it is “some capricious retribution” and citing as justification the particularly egregious nature of Graber’s traffic offenses. Oddly, however, the offenses were not so egregious as to cause his arrest before the video appeared.

Almost without exception, police officials have staunchly supported the arresting officers. This argues strongly against the idea that some rogue officers are overreacting or that a few cops have something to hide. “Arrest those who record the police” appears to be official policy, and it’s backed by the courts.

Carlos Miller at the Photography Is Not A Crime website offers an explanation: “For the second time in less than a month, a police officer was convicted from evidence obtained from a videotape. The first officer to be convicted was New York City Police Officer Patrick Pogan, who would never have stood trial had it not been for a video posted on Youtube showing him body slamming a bicyclist before charging him with assault on an officer. The second officer to be convicted was Ottawa Hills (Ohio) Police Officer Thomas White, who shot a motorcyclist in the back after a traffic stop, permanently paralyzing the 24-year-old man.”

When the police act as though cameras were the equivalent of guns pointed at them, there is a sense in which they are correct. Cameras have become the most effective weapon that ordinary people have to protect against and to expose police abuse. And the police want it to stop.

Happily, even as the practice of arresting “shooters” expands, there are signs of effective backlash. At least one Pennsylvania jurisdiction has reaffirmed the right to video in public places. As part of a settlement with ACLU attorneys who represented an arrested “shooter,” the police in Spring City and East Vincent Township adopted a written policy allowing the recording of on-duty policemen.

As journalist Radley Balko declares, “State legislatures should consider passing laws explicitly making it legal to record on-duty law enforcement officials.”

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Our Crazy Judges: Supreme Court Says Suspects Cannot Remain Silent In Order To Exercise Right To Remain Silent

June 1, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC - The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that suspects must explicitly tell police they want to be silent to invoke Miranda protections during criminal interrogations, a decision one dissenting justice said turns defendants’ rights “upside down.”

A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said in a 5-4 decision that suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.

The ruling comes in a case where a suspect, Van Chester Thompkins, remained mostly silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a Jan. 10, 2000, murder in Southfield, Mich. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the decision for the court’s conservatives, said that wasn’t enough.

“Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police,” Kennedy said. “Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his ‘right to cut off questioning.’ Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s newest member, wrote a strongly worded dissent for the court’s liberals, saying the majority’s decision “turns Miranda upside down.”

“Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent – which counterintuitively, requires them to speak,” she said. “At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded.”

Van Chester Thompkins was arrested for murder in 2001 and interrogated by police for three hours. At the beginning, Thompkins was read his Miranda rights and said he understood.

The officers in the room said Thompkins said little during the interrogation, occasionally answering “yes,” “no,” “I don’t know,” nodding his head and making eye contact as his responses. But when one of the officers asked him if he prayed for forgiveness for “shooting that boy down,” Thompkins said, “Yes.”

He was convicted, but on appeal he wanted that statement thrown out because he said he invoked his Miranda rights by being uncommunicative with the interrogating officers.

The Cincinnati-based appeals court agreed and threw out his confession and conviction. The high court reversed that decision.

The case is Berghuis v. Thompkins, 08-1470.

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US Census Counts Imprisoned Illegal Aliens Awaiting Deportation

May 31, 2010

TACOMA, WASHINGTON - Paulo Sergio Alfaro-Sanchez, an illegal immigrant being held at a detention center in Washington state, had no idea that the federal government would count him in the census.

No one gave him a census form. No one told him his information would be culled from the center’s records.

But counted he was, along with other illegal immigrants facing deportation in detention centers across the country – about 30,000 people on any given day, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement.

By the time the census delivers the total tallies to the state and federal government, most of the immigrants will be long gone. But because the population snapshot determines the allocation of federal dollars, those in custody could help bring money to the towns, cities and counties in Texas, Arizona, Washington and Georgia where the country’s biggest and newest facilities are located.

“I think the irony, if there’s any irony, is that the locality is what’s going to benefit, because you have a detention center in a particular city where people have been brought from different parts of the region, and that community will benefit,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, an organization that has pushed Latinos to participate in the census.

This census brings a twist, though. For the first time, states have the option of counting people in detention centers and prisons as residents of their last address before they’re detained, worrying some local lawmakers who say cities and counties that host detention centers could lose money.

“Detention centers and prisons should probably count where they are located, that’s where resources would be required,” Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, D-Georgia wrote in a May letter to the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees the census. Bishop represents Stewart County, Georgia, population 4,600, where the nation’s largest detention center housed a total of 14,000 people between April 2007 and March 2008.

ICE operates 22 immigrant detention centers and also houses people in hundreds of other jails or prisons. Most of the largest centers are in small towns in Texas, Arizona and Georgia. Texas is home to six detention centers, and Arizona has three.

The payout can be hefty for small towns. Federal money being distributed from the census averaged about $1,469 per person in fiscal year 2008, according to the Brookings Institution, and other grants are also available to small towns depending on their population.

In Raymondville, Texas, a town of nearly 10,000 people, the Willacy Detention Center holds an average daily population of about 1,000. The center opened in 2006 and was a boon to the community as ICE and the private company that runs the center rushed to hire personnel.

Now, the detention center’s population may push Raymondville over the town’s goal of surpassing 10,000, a number that will allow them to qualify for more federal help, Mayor Orlando Correa said.

“As long it’s humane, as long as the facility respects the rights of these people and they’re not treated like animals, I’m OK with it,” Correa said.

For safety reasons, most detainees are counted through administrative records, rather than forms being passed out, U.S Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner said. The census will cull data from records kept on April 1.

Alfaro-Sanchez, for his part, is glad he’s being counted. He entered the country when he was about 15 through Tijuana, and worked as a handyman in Goldendale, a small town in eastern Washington.

He arrived in at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma on March 30 after being arrested in a fight. The charges were dropped, he said, but immigration officers had already flagged him for arrest.

“I think that even though we may be sent back, there’s a lot of people who may need that money, the Hispanic people that are here,” the 32-year-old said in Spanish.

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