Governor Bob McDonnell threw a bone to concerned supporters this week by announcing that he would request enrollment of the Virginia State Police in the Section 287(g) Program. Before anyone thinks of breaking out the proverbial champagne in celebration of McDonnell stepping back from his comments that Virginia is already doing everything it can in regards to illegal immigration, they might want to consider holding off a bit, as the ultimate result of this announcement is likely to be pretty disappointing.
When Bob was Attorney General, and the Bush White House was at least going through the motions of enforcing our immigration laws, Bob wanted to see enrollment in the Section 287(g) Program happen, and at the time that call for action made eminent sense. Several localities had entered into the program, gotten the requisite training, and the immediate results in places like Herndon and Prince William County were astonishing, as it was discovered that upwards of 20% of the inmates incarcerated by these localities were illegal aliens who had somehow slipped through the dragnet of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Although then-Governor Tim Kaine would have nothing to do with this program, it was delivering immediate results and having then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell calling on Kaine to join the program was great political ammunition that pointed out a horrible disconnect between Virginians and the Democrat leadership.
Fast-forward to the present, and the Obama Administration has dramatically curtailed the program, and hasn’t accepted a single state or locality into the program. Anyone sending a letter to Obama now saying they want in is going to find that the resources to provide the required training for the program have been tasked elsewhere, no one is processing new applicants, and the request will sit in a growing stack of applications that will without a doubt languish until at least the departure of President Obummer from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Governor McDonnell might as well have asked Obama to federalize the Virginia Guard to be deployed on the Arizona border. Either of those requests would have gone nowhere.
Acceptance into the Section 287(g) program results in a memorandum (called MOUs) of understanding getting executed between the participating agency and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last year, all the MOUs that had been carefully crafted to take into account the needs of the state or locality along with the resources ICE could provide got thrown out and replaced with a one-size-fits all that “prioritizes” deportations. This effectively means that instead of agreed on performance measures by ICE to remove all illegal aliens subject to a detainer within a certain time period, ICE will remove only those illegal aliens it considers a danger, and they’ll do so when they feel like it. Consider this effective amnesty for illegal aliens who haven’t risen to the level of professional murderer, rapist, or gang-banger. Back when this change was announced, I told the Prince William Board of County Supervisors the result of this change would be more dead Americans. In a disturbing and heartbreaking turn of events involving a nun on her way to Church one Sunday morning, I turned out to be right. I wish I weren’t.
So even if ICE somehow agrees to accept the Virginia State Police into the Section 287(g) Program — breaking over a year of suspensions of new applicants, and can somehow come up with the resources to train all those officers in some reasonable timeframe, the program has been deliberately turned into a fairly hollow shell of what it once was. The effect of the participation would only be marginally better than the Secure Communities Program. Although deportations of criminal illegal aliens probably wouldn’t change at all, at least officers of the Virginia State Police would have some good training in how to detect illegal aliens, uncover identity fraud, detect human smuggling and dismantle sexual slavery rings. Then ICE would do nothing about the illegal aliens they apprehended.
The idea, back when there was an administration that actually gave a whit about the Section 287(g) Program, was to enroll not only the Virginia State Police, but the Virginia Department of Corrections and the Department of Motor Vehicles in the program as well. The DOC could identify illegal aliens in state prisons and perform the processing of detainers on them, ensuring that those folks were deported, subject to the interest of ICE in actually removing them rather then releasing them back into our communities. At the DMV, trained officers would have additional training in how to spot document fraud and identity theft and have the authority to put suspects into detention pending criminal and immigration proceedings. Governor McDonnell hasn’t asked for that, which is surprising. Those are definitely two agencies that could benefit as much — if not more than the State Police by participation in the 287(g) Program, lending a nice counterpoint to Governor McDonnell’s previous statements that there was nothing more Virginia could do to combat illegal immigration.
Heck, if he’d just read his old correspondence from when he was Attorney General, Governor McDonnell would have a nice long list of things we could be doing. At least if an entre into the Section 287(g) Program was contemplated, we’d get all the state law enforcement agencies enrolled and not just the Virginia State Police. I applaud the Governor’s interest in the issue, but either he’s getting bad advice or just simply doesn’t intend to address this issue and instead has opted for some nice looking window-dressing.
I just hope we don’t have to see more innocent Virginians die before Bob McDonnell somehow finds the guts to actually protect Virginians from the impacts of illegal immigration in Virginia, which increase unemployment, saddle taxpayers with costs they shouldn’t have to bear, and harm our public safety. The tragedies that result from the failure of government to get and keep illegal aliens out of our country are unbearable.
Governor McDonnell, this recent tragedy is Obama’s, because he deliberately put in place the conditions under which it happened. The next one will be yours, because you didn’t take the opportunity to take the necessary steps to protect Virginians after the federal government decided to go against the citizens of Virginia, and with illegal aliens. When the federal government fails us, it is the duty of our state government to step in and resolve the problem.
Governor, do your duty.
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