41 Arrested in First Month of Stricter Immigration Policy

Kristen Mack, Washington Post, April 2, 2008

Nearly 100 people have been questioned about their citizenship status in Prince William County since a crackdown on illegal immigration went into effect a month ago, Police Chief Charlie T. Deane told supervisors yesterday.

Most of the checks have occurred during traffic stops and calls for service, Deane said. Forty-one of the 89 people whom officers questioned were arrested on various charges and taken to the county’s adult detention center.

Deane’s report was the first that the Board of County Supervisors has received about the stepped-up enforcement since it began March 3.

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Prince William has detained almost 700 people since July, when the county began implementing federal immigration laws. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is supposed to pick up detainees within 72 hours, but there has been a two- to three-week lag time, said Prince William Police Maj. Peter Meletis.

“In order for it to work inside the jail, ICE has to do its part,” said Meletis, superintendent of the jail. “They don’t have the budget or manpower to keep up with the amount of people we are detaining.”

Mark X. McGraw, deputy special agent of the Washington field office for ICE, said the agency can’t handle the influx of arrested suspects.

“We’ve gotten ahead of ourselves,” he said. “But we are doing the best we can. We never expected that to happen as fast as it did.” Jail officials could not provide the outcomes of the cases of the 41 people arrested.

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