Police Suspend Ban On Immigration Status Queries

Natasha Altamirano, Washington Times, July 10, 2007

Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane has suspended a department policy prohibiting officers from asking residents about their immigration status except when they are suspected of felonies or other major crimes.

In a memo last week to the Board of County Supervisors, Chief Deane said he plans to implement a policy to “provide officers with additional guidanceā€ and will pursue federal training for immigration-enforcement procedures. He will present his plans to the board today.

Board members are expected to discuss a proposed resolution requiring police officers making arrests and county staff providing public services to ask about immigration status.

The resolution, introduced last month by Supervisor John T. Stirrup, directs the police department to pursue training authorized under Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allows state and local law-enforcement agencies to work with federal officials to identify and detain illegal aliens.

Chief Deane opposes such training for his department but supports it at the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center, which is finalizing a formal agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said Sgt. Kim Chinn, police department spokeswoman.

Chief Deane, who was unavailable for comment yesterday, suspended a May 2005 order that prohibited county officers from asking a person about their immigration status unless they are arrested for a felony, criminal street-gang activity, terrorist activity or organized crime, using a firearm while committing a crime or fraudulent activity to assist illegal aliens.

Virginia law allows police to check immigration status and notify federal immigration officials if a suspect is found to have been convicted of a felony or to have a warrant outstanding from ICE.

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