- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine does not want to create a statewide partnership with federal immigration officials that would allow state agencies to identify illegal aliens and begin deportation procedures, despite calls from the state’s attorney general and anti-illegal-immigration groups.

“The governor does not object to localities choosing to enter into localized agreements with [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement],” said Kevin Hall, Mr. Kaine’s spokesman. “He has concerns, however, about asking state troopers to assume primary enforcement of federal immigration responsibilities.”

The Virginia State Crime Commission’s task force on illegal aliens last month discussed introducing legislation mandating all sheriffs and jail administrators to participate in the 287(g) program as a way to streamline statewide immigration enforcement. The 287(g) program trains local and state law-enforcement officials to identify illegal aliens and begin deportation proceedings.

The task force is scheduled to meet today to hear presentations on the number of illegal aliens in the state’s jails and prisons and the federal government’s handling of incarcerated criminal aliens.

When asked if Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, would oppose mandatory 287(g) training at every state jail, Mr. Hall reiterated the governor’s support for local agreements.



“The governor has no objections to local governments entering into their own agreements with ICE,” Mr. Hall said.

The anti-illegal-alien group Help Save Virginia created an online petition asking Mr. Kaine to order the state police, the state Department of Corrections and the state Department of Motor Vehicles to enter into the 287(g) program.

“By continuing to ignore the effects of illegal immigration on the citizens of the commonwealth of Virginia, we believe the governor is jeopardizing the safety and security of citizens and other legal residents of the commonwealth,” reads the petition, which had garnered about 500 signatures as of yesterday afternoon.

Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, earlier this year asked Mr. Kaine to reconsider his opposition to statewide 287(g) training — a request that Mr. McDonnell last week said still stands.

Mr. McDonnell said his powers are not as broad as those of New Jersey’s attorney general, who last week ordered state and local police to notify federal immigration officials when an illegal alien is arrested for an indictable offense or drunken driving.

The decision was made in part to create a statewide policy on immigration enforcement after a suspect in the Aug. 4 execution-style killings of three Newark, N.J., college students was found to be an illegal alien who had been granted bail on child rape and aggravated assault charges.

Immigration officials had not been notified of the suspect’s existence.

Mr. Hall said in Virginia, state police, the DMV and state corrections department work closely with ICE.

“We work with all our federal, local and state law-enforcement partners depending on the needs of the incident — whether it’s dealing with an undocumented immigrant or anyone else,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

State police officials in 2004 considered pursuing 287(g) training for officers who are members of a task force on gangs and terrorism, but determined that it wasn’t necessary and could inhibit illegal aliens from reporting crimes, Miss Geller said.

“By pursuing the program, it could be detrimental to our relationship with our immigrant communities,” she said.

DMV officials notify ICE when a person is found to be an illegal alien after presenting fraudulent documents or through his or her own admission, DMV spokeswoman Melanie Stokes said.

Corrections Department spokesman Larry Traylor said corrections officials notify ICE when any foreign-born person is incarcerated.

“We inform ICE of a foreign-born national,” Mr. Traylor said. “We don’t determine if they’re illegal.”

Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly considered about 50 immigration-related bills, nearly all of which failed. Some of the unsuccessful legislation involved mandatory 287(g) training for state agencies.

Since then, a handful of law-enforcement agencies in Virginia have entered into formal agreements with ICE, including Herndon police, the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center, the Loudoun Adult Detention Center and the sheriff’s departments in Shenandoah and Rockingham counties.

A number of localities recently have passed or are considering resolutions tightening immigration enforcement, including Prince William, Loudoun, Culpeper, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Chesterfield, James City and Page counties.

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