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Area police lack policies to deal with illegals
“When there’s a crime, we run [suspects] through the NCIC database, and if they’re wanted, we notify the proper agency,” he said.
The same is true in the District.
The Metropolitan Police Department prohibits officers from asking people about their immigration status for the purpose of enforcing civil immigration law, but it cooperates with federal authorities for investigations into criminal immigration violations. They include felonies and such misdemeanors as harboring illegal aliens or re-entering the United States after having been deported, which are prosecuted in federal court.
Illegal presence in the United States is considered a civil immigration violation.
Greenbelt police “will not stop persons for the sole purpose of determining immigration status” nor “arrest a person when the only violation is an infraction of a federal immigration law,” the department’s policy states.
Officers notify federal immigration officials if an illegal alien is arrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor such as a handgun violation, according to the policy.
The Code of Virginia was amended in July 2004 to give local and state police limited authority to arrest illegal aliens. Officers may arrest based on “reasonable suspicion” that an illegal alien has committed a crime and previously has been convicted of a felony and deported or voluntarily left the United States after such a conviction.
“Determining a suspect’s immigration status cannot be the sole purpose to stop a person or to form the basis for an investigation or inquiry,” wrote Charles E. Samarra, then-chief of the Alexandria Police Department, in a staff memo before the amendment took effect.
Fairfax County police also clarified its policy when the amendment passed.
“There is no statutory authority under Virginia law for a local law-enforcement officer to arrest a person solely for being an ‘illegal alien’ in violation of the federal Immigration and Nationality Act,” a police memo states.
The department also updated its policy on arrest procedures, which describes the circumstances under which police should notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): a pre-existing ICE warrant found on the NCIC database; terrorist or subversive activities; fraudulent activity aimed at assisting illegal aliens to enter the country; possession of a firearm; organized crime, including gambling, prostitution and narcotics distribution; criminal street gang involvement; and felonies.
Arlington County similarly bars police officers from asking about a person’s immigration status unless they are arrested for a violent felony; convicted of a felony, regardless of whether that felony involved violence; arrested for a terrorism-related offense or suspected of terrorist or subversive activities; arrested for fraudulent activity aimed at assisting illegal entry or assimilation in the country; reasonably suspected of criminal street gang activity; or a previously deported felon.
Prince William County had a similar policy until Police Chief Charlie T. Deane suspended it earlier this month while the department drafts a new, more stringent one as mandated by the Board of County Supervisors.
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