- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

The Herndon Town Council tonight is expected to discuss a proposal to seek federal immigration training that would allow local police to question and detain suspected illegal aliens.

Herndon Police Chief Toussaint E. Summers Jr. last week asked the council to team with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for the five-week training, which also would allow local officers to work with federal agents on immigration cases.

If approved, the chief expects trained immigration officers to be on the streets within four to six months.

“This program is geared toward felons — those who wreak havoc in our community and those who have committed serious violent crimes but are not citizens of this country,” Chief Summers said at a press conference Friday. “I think it would benefit everybody to get those folks out of our country as soon as we can.”

The request comes as the town and Fairfax County face a lawsuit by seven county residents who say taxpayer money should not be used to partially fund a day-laborer center in town because it violates state and federal law by helping illegal aliens find work.

Documents recently obtained by Judicial Watch, the District-based public-interest law firm representing the residents, showed Herndon police requested information on the training in 2004, but did not follow through.

Chief Summers said Friday the country’s heightened terrorism awareness after September 11 and requests by past and current town council members prompted the most recent request for training.

Virginia state law allows local law-enforcement officials to detain illegal aliens only if they are suspected of a crime, have been convicted of a felony or have been deported or left the United States and returned illegally.

Under the new training, local police would be able to detain illegals regardless of deportation status, and begin the initial paperwork for ICE to review when they pick up an alien who might be considered for deportation.

But the training would only allow local police to enforce federal laws against “criminal aliens who pose a threat to national security and public safety,” Chief Summers said, meaning the training would have little effect on day laborers in Herndon.

“ICE currently is in the area, and you don’t see ICE running over there now,” the chief said. “We wouldn’t have any more authority than ICE has now.”

The training would include courses on document examination, cross-cultural communications and racial profiling, Chief Summers said.

He does not think it would hurt relations with Hispanics and other immigrants in the community.

“I think it actually will benefit and enhance the relationship because what we will hopefully do is move folks out of their midst that may be causing havoc in their communities,” he said.



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