Police Make No Arrests in First Day of Crackdown

Dan Genz, The Examiner (Washington, D.C.), March 4, 2008

Prince William County police interviewed four people in its first day of a crackdown against illegal immigrants Monday, but found no violations of U.S. immigration laws and made no arrests, police said last night.

Police officers were directed for the first time to check the U.S. residency of suspected traffic violators and minor offenders in a plan that has attracted national attention for its breadth and scope as well as heightened immigrant alarm and anger.

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That can lead to beginning deportation proceedings or simply notifying federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials that a traffic violator without a driver’s license lives at a certain address.

Immigrants expressed outrage at the policy but expected the plan’s implementation to show its effect over a period of many months, rather than a few hours.

“I fear that one of my friends will be detained,” said Paula Perez, a Texas-born U.S. citizen who lives in Woodbridge and has seen many immigrants already leave the county. “One of my friends said she is not shopping, she is not going to movies, she is not going out to eat. Life has changed 360 degrees.”

While Deane requested video cameras in every police car to document interactions between officers and drivers to prepare for racial profiling accusations at a cost of $3 million in the upcoming fiscal year, the cameras have not been installed at perhaps the most contentious time of the policy’s existence.

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