Prince William County’s Jail Board failed Wednesday to renew its cooperation agreement with ICE, meaning its involvement in the 287(g) program that allows deputies at the jail to begin the deportation process will expire at the end of this month.
The matter came before the board in a special virtual meeting held online and the motion to renew the agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement didn’t even get to the floor.
“Receiving no motion, the program ends on June 30, 2020,” Sheriff Glen Hill announced.
Prince William had been one of the largest jurisdictions in the country still taking part in 287(g). Its departure leaves Culpeper County as the only Virginia locality still participating.
ICE says that without 287(g), it will have to surge more manpower to the county to arrest targets out in the community that it no longer picks up from the jails. That also means it might end up arresting other illegal immigrants who weren’t the targets.
“Without the 287(g) program ICE does not have the resources to cover the jail like it has been the past 13 years,” Henry Lucero, director of ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, told the board in a virtual presentation. He said deportation officers will still have access to the jail, but they won’t be able to cover it around the clock, so they will miss some targets who will get released.
Under 287(g), local authorities are able to make civil immigration arrests and begin the paperwork for a deportation. Since the program began in Prince William in 2007, 11 deputies have been trained.
Since 2017, ICE and 287(g) deputies have flagged 2,639 migrants for deportation after they were arrested and booked into the jail. Among those were 65 charged with or convicted of homicide, 277 of sex assaults, and 1,612 with drunken driving.
Sheriff Hill said he’s never heard any complaints about the program, and said it was “another tool we use to keep our community safe.”
But Prince William Police Chief Barry Barnard said he thought the program may have run its course.
“Some residents in our immigration community may be concerned about ICE,” the chief said, adding that some of the county’s immigrants conflate his police officers and federal immigration agents, making his job tougher.
Raul Torres, the county’s executive director for human rights said the county’s jails should be to house inmates safely, not to see them deported.
“If you look at who benefits, other than ICE, I don’t see the local benefit of the program,” he said.