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Virginia Governor Wants Police To Question Immigration Status Of Drivers

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Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell wants state police to question the immigration status of drivers and to refer immigrants for deportation, according to The Washington Post.

The governor said, on August 3, 2010, that he had been seeking an agreement with the federal government to set forth the proposal 287(g), which will allow for the prosecution of drug and violent offenders, according to news channel 9 WHSV, which covers the West Virginia area.

However, CASA de Maryland, a Latino non-profit organization, and other immigration advocacy groups have opposed the proposal saying it will promote racial profiling against immigrants, according to The Frederick News Post.

Although the proposal has not yet become law, Virginia already has high rates of criminal convictions. The number of undocumented immigrants convicted has increased 50 percent up from last year’s 2,414 in Virginia and the District, as reported by The Washington Post.

The greatest bulk of the surge in detainees is due to an eager emphasis in checking the immigration status of anyone committing a crime-including petty crimes. Since 2008, the Secure Communities program, which aims to deport illegal immigrants, has checked the immigration status of around 262,930 immigrants.  Some of these immigrants have been involved in crimes in Virginia, ranging from mostly petty offenses to more serious crimes, as reported by The Washington Post.

This program is now being implemented statewide, and it’s expected to increase even further the number of undocumented immigrants detained. 

Blocking some controversial provisions of the SB 1070 Arizona Immigration bill, a U.S. district judge prohibited officers from randomly checking the immigration status of people in Arizona, according to the New York Times. Yet, Virginia has joined the almost 10 states that have followed Arizona in wanting to allow law enforcement agents to check the immigration status when anyone is stopped by the police for any cause.

However, Dana G. Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, told The Washington Post that police officers have the freedom to decide whether to ask the immigration status of the people who they stop, and that McDonnell’s opinion is not a mandate, but rather a suggestion.

Virginia counties have different procedures on whether to check the immigration status of people stopped by police. Eight localities in Virginia, among them Herndon, Prince William and Loudoun counties, have embraced the 287 (g) status that allows checking the immigration status of drivers, as reported by The Washington Post.

What to expect if you are in Fairfax County?

According to Mary Ann Jennings, a police spokeswoman, Fairfax County will not check the status of people during routine traffic related stops, as reported by The Washington Post.

What if you are in Arlington County?

Police in the Arlington County usually only ask the immigration status when it’s relevant to solving a crime or a major offense, Detective Crystal Nosal, a police spokeswoman, told The Washington Post.

What happens in Prince William County?

Police in Prince William County often follow McDonnell’s advice to stop drivers with the purpose of assuring that every driver carries a valid identification, as reported by The Washington Post. Prince William County police often checks the immigration status only of those who have been arrested, but this county has one of the highest rates in undocumented immigrants detained.

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/28/AR2010072806132.html

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/search/results.htm?query=287%20g%20casa%20de%20marylalnd

http://www.cis.org/287greport

http://www.whsv.com/news/headlines/100589599.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/02/AR20100802052292.html?sid=ST2010080301886

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/03/AR20100803067262.html?sid=ST2010080302563

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/17/AR2010071701416.html

http://www.oag.state.va.us/OPINIONS/2010opns/10-047-Marshall.pdf

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