After a rush of localities discovered the utility of deporting criminal illegal aliens rather than releasing them from jail after they served their sentences, Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Berry quietly applied to have Fairfax County participate in the Section 287(g) Program. Unfortunately, it appears that waiting has consequences, as Fairfax County won’t be accepted into the program. Berry claims that ICE rejected the application, a contention with which ICE doesn’t exactly agree with, but there clearly is a resource issue at ICE that’s preventing more localities from becoming more effective partners with federal law enforcement authorities. Most likely there’s more to this story, one which Councilman (and current Chairman candidate) Pat Herrity has pledged to ferret out. Let’s hope he does.
Last summer some of heard about the flood of local agencies that were applying to participate in the Section 287(g) Program, and that approvals were starting to slow down considerably. ICE was clearly having trouble dealing with the flood of illegal aliens being turned over for deportation from localities such as Prince William County that was providing instead of the forty deportees a month that was expected, well over a hundred. Localities enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with ICE before the program starts which estimates the number of illegal aliens that are expected to be found, and ICE programs the support needed to fulfill that agreement based on this estimate. Once the program starts, it is almost always the case that the estimate woefully underestimated the scope of the problem, and ICE has to struggle in order to remove deportable aliens within the timeframe established in the MOU.
Given the unexpected demand, ICE’s response was to slow down approvals for Section 287(g) Participation so as not to make their resource problem worse. This was expected to be a relatively short-term unofficial bureaucratic fix that would allow the agency to secure additional resources from Congress and get those resources programmed. At some point the logjam would be released, and those pending applications would start getting approved. ICE really didn’t have much of an alternative, since denying applications was fraught with political peril, but they couldn’t add more demand to the program which was already supply-challenged at best.
That logjam has started to clear, and a record number of applications from localities have been approved so far this year. Yet Fairfax county wasn’t among them. The content of the application that Fairfax County made could be the difference. It is hardly beyond the realm of possibilities that Fairfax attempted to create a weak program that would “check the box” that Fairfax County was doing something, while the agreement would have resulted in little if any change to their current practices and procedures. If that happened, ICE would be put in the position of providing political cover for the weak approach to enforcing the law that had been a hallmark of Fairfax County. ICE then had the opportunity to refuse to provide political cover for a locality that hadn’t been very helpful, if this is what happened.
We’ll see when MOU proposed by Fairfax County comes to light. If it contains a list of offenses to be covered that duplicates the small number of crimes for which illegal aliens are already being deported, we’ll have our answer, and we’ll have a reason to thank ICE for not allowing themselves to be used.
UPDATE: Here’s a list of the localities that have been accepted in Virginia. There are 63 localities in the United States that are enrolled in the Section 287(g) Program.
|City of Manassas Police Department||TFO||
|Herndon Police Department||TFO||
|Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office||TFO||
|Manassas Park Police Department||TFO||
|Prince William County Police Department||TFO||
|Prince William County Sheriff’s Office||TFO||
|Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center||JEO||
|Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office||JEO/TFO||
|Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office||TFO||
JEO = Jail Enforcement Officers
TFO = Task Force Officers
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