After five years, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office's participation in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 287(g) program — which allowed local officers to help with street-level immigration enforcement — has been discontinued.
The program allowed local law enforcement to question those suspected of crimes about their legal status and detain or arrest those here illegally, potentially leading to their deportation.
Loudoun County is one of 57 municipalities in 21 states who entered into agreements with ICE under the law. ICE worked with local law enforcement to train officers in the programs.
ICE also ended agreements with the 16 other jurisdictions who had "task force" agreements under the law — five of them in Virginia, including neighboring Herndon.
Forty jurisdictions who are authorized for jail enforcement under the law, including the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail and the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, will continue its programs, at least for now.
According to an ICE press release from Dec. 21, this restricts the use of detainers against individuals arrested for minor misdemeanor offenses such as traffic offenses and other petty crimes.
New federal guidelines, released concurrently with the announcement its 287(g) program was ending, say local police should instead focus on, among other things, felons, repeat criminals, repeat immigration law offenders, or public safety threats — such as known gang members or suspected terrorists.
During fiscal year 2012, ICE’s Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations removed 409,849 individuals from the country. About 55 percent of them were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors.
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USA Today reported earlier this year that eliminating the program alltogether could save the Department of Homeland Security about $17 million.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell asked ICE to authorize state troopers under a street-level 287(g) program in 2010, but his request was denied.
“Although the formal 287(g) program has been discontinued, we have over the course of the program developed strong relationships with ICE officials and we will continue to work closely with them to enhance public safety throughout our community,” Col. Maggie A. DeBoard, Herndon’s Chief of Police, said in the town’s statement.
The Secure Communities Program, which is used at the Fairfax County jail, remains in effect. Secure Communities helps identify criminal illegal immigrants as they’re arrested and booked by running their fingerprints against a national database when they’re taken into custody.
“While the FY 2012 removals indicate that we continue to make progress in focusing resources on criminal and priority aliens, with more convicted criminals being removed from the country than ever before, we are constantly looking for ways to ensure that we are doing everything we can to utilize our resources in a way that maximizes public safety,” ICE Director John Morton wrote in a release.