RICHMOND — A Virginia task force yesterday recommended that state officials negotiate a deal with federal immigration authorities to build a jail that could house as many as a thousand illegal aliens convicted of minor crimes.
The recommendation was one of 10 outlined by the Virginia State Crime Commission”s Illegal Immigration Task Force at a hearing, which also featured presentations from immigrant-advocacy groups and local law-enforcement officials from across the state.
Other initiatives call for creating regional anti-gang task forces where they don’t already exist, reimbursing local jails that hold illegal aliens on behalf of the federal government and making illegal aliens ineligible for bail.
The panel suggested that the General Assembly urge Virginia’s congressional delegation to help pass comprehensive immigration reform and provide the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers with the resources it needs to help the state deal with its estimated 300,000 illegal aliens.
State Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican, said he hopes the recommendations, coupled with initiatives proposed by Republican leaders, help ease the financial and safety burdens being saddled on Virginians.
He said 4,869 illegal aliens are housed in jails in Fairfax County alone. ICE reimburses the county for about 320 illegal aliens detained by federal officials, he said. But Fairfax County taxpayers are forced to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for the remaining inmates.
“In a perfect world [the illegal aliens jailed] should have federal detention orders slapped on them, and they should be sent back to their own country,” Mr. Albo said.
The commission is expected to air the recommendations ata public hearing next month and then forward its conclusions to the General Assembly.
State Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle, Virginia Beach Republican and chairman of the task force, said that ultimately the recommendations should provide the General Assembly with a good idea of where state law can be tweaked after the 140-member legislature returns to Richmond next year.
Last month, Virginia Republicans outlined a five-part legislative package they plan to introduce in the next session that would require sheriffs to confirm an arrested person’s legal status and require every jail to have a person certified to detain illegals during the deportation process.
Republicans also want to make a federal conviction for hiring illegals grounds for suspension of a business license, bar illegal aliens from attending state universities unless they have a valid student visa and make illegal aliens ineligible for bail.
In addition, localities across Virginia have recently passed or considered local ordinances targeting illegal immigrants.
Prince William County officials have been at the forefront of the debate ever since they adopted a resolution in July mandating that police verify the immigration status of lawbreakers if an officer has probable cause to think the suspect is an illegal alien.
Several other Virginia jurisdictions have passed or considered immigration-related resolutions, including Chesterfield, Culpeper, James City, Loudoun, Page, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties and the city of Manassas.