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Not enough can be stated about the inhumanity that the United States is currently perpetrating on a vulnerable population of human beings, but today I want to acknowledge the financial cost to Pennsylvania residents.

Starting July 1, our PA budget for corrections and parole has increased by 4 percent making it $2.5 billion dollars, meanwhile public schools received an increase of less than 2 percent. This means we’re increasing our budget more to incarcerate folks than we are to educate them and if that seems fiscally irresponsible to you, that’s because it is. This budget was passed with bipartisan support.

While immigration has been decreasing year over year, according to ICE’s website they arrested more people in 2017 than in the prior three years. Essentially, we are arresting more people when less immigration is occurring. Again, if that seems financially irresponsible, that’s because IT IS.

For example, detainees in the York County Prison cost more than $42,000 annually. Pennsylvania has more people in prisons than the entire population of Harrisburg alone. And we are paying for all of this.

Alternative to Detention (ATD) programs cost between $255 and $6,205 annually, which allows Pa. residents to allocate more funds to education, health care, infrastructure and a whole host of other priorities. Saving this money would mean more for the residents of Pennsylvania than putting immigrants and their families into detention centers and it’s the morally right thing to do.

It makes sense to keep families together. It makes financial sense to keep them out of PA detention centers and Pa. prisons, saving us millions each year. Calling our senators and congresspeople and asking for use of ATD makes sense. We need to do the right thing here. I hope we can do it together.

TARA SHAKESPEARE

Lower Allen Township

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