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Prince William Jail Board to Let 287(g) ICE Cooperation Program Expire

| June 18, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Tonya James Commissioner of HRC and Field Director for the Virginia Democratic Committee shares video on Twitter, writing “Si se puede.”

The Prince William County Regional Jail Board decided, Wednesday, to allow the county’s controversial 287(g)-ICE program to expire on June 30. 

The program, spearheaded by Prince William Chairman Corey Stewart (R) in 2007, and implemented in 2009, is a cooperation between the Prince William County/Manassas Detention Center and ICE* [Immigration and Customs Enforcement.] When a person arrested in Prince William County is found not be a legal document U.S. resident those individuals are turned over to ICE. 

The Prince William Police did participate in 287(g) but their cooperation ended in 2012.

Retiring Police Chief Barry Barnard said Wednesday that the 287(g) Program has not shown any measurable reduction in crime in the county and has perhaps, “run its course.” Culpeper County is the only other jurisdiction in Virginia to have the agreement. 

According to Washington Post, the program has led to 2,639 county inmates transferred over to ICE over the 13 year period. These include 65 inmates for murder, 277 for sexual assault and 1,612 for DUIs. 

Prince William became the first county in Virginia to become a minority-majority community in 2010, housing a large Latino and Hispanic population. Democrats have long argued that the program has had a negative affect on some of its Latino and immigrant communities who have come to fear or distrust the police. People have acknowledge that in its review of the program.

However, others, including Republican leadership, questioned why the community should harbor people who not only entered the country illegally, but committed crimes. Additionally, a number of Latino residents wanted to make sure criminals were deported making their communities safer. 

The change in leadership on the Jail Board helped solidify the decision to end the program. The board was approved on May 19 by the new Democratic majority on the Board of County Supervisors. The appointments sparked controversy as people realized this would be the death of the 287(g) program.

But most county residents do not have full understanding of the 287(g) Program. ICE representative Gerald Suffolk fielded questions from the Jail Board. He said that under the 287(g) Program, police turn over all non-documented immigrants who were arrested even if they were arrested for misdemeanors such as public drunkeness, and even if the charges were dismissed.

However, in other jurisdictions where the 287(g) program does not exist, ICE is still notified of dangerous convicts. Jails fingerprint their inmates and that information is shared with the FBI and ICE. If ICE chooses to respond, federal agents will typically apprehend inmates from the jail or upon their release, or they can arrested them in the community.

Suffolk thought this was bad for community relations. “It force us out into the community to make arrests…makes us more present out there,” he said. 

Once ICE has the inmate in custody, it is the agency’s decision whether to retain them, whether the person committed a serious crime or not.

Tracey Lenox noted that discontinuing the program would not allow dangerous criminals back into the community or to flee the country. She noted those charged with serious crime such as murder or rape are not eligible for release on bond. 

State State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st District ) ran on supporting the Latino communities and was appointed to the Jail Board. She received accolades from others who support immigrant communities, yesterday, for helping to end the 287(g) program.

Policy and Advocacy Director for the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Guillero Mena praised Guzman on Twitter. “An immigrant who was elected to the Virginia House as a Democrat in 2017 and appointed to the jail board by the county supervisors in May, is the strongest voice against renewing 287(g.)”

Sheriff Hill supported the 287(g) program, saying he believe it does make the county safer. 

“We need to apply the lens of equity as we work to rebuild trust in our community,” said Chair Ann Wheeler, commenting on social media, Wednesday.

This comes at a time when police are looking to form a better bond with communities of color following the death of George Floyd, and protests around the nation spurred a movement to defund police. ICE has also been the subject of controversy for its detention of undocumented immigrant children at the U.S. Mexico Border who were seeking asylum.

*Correction: Bristow Beat updated this article, as the Prince William Police have not participated in 287(g) since 2012. 

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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