FAQs: Secure Communities

What is Secure Communities?

The Secure Communities program, administered by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), uses existing information to identify non-citizens for possible deportation who have been arrested for a crime and booked into a local jail. In Fairfax County, the jail is called the Adult Detention Center. 

How are non-citizens identified?

During the booking process, all arrestees who are fingerprinted are checked for criminal history information through the FBI’s database AND the immigration records maintained by ICE. If fingerprints match ICE records, ICE agents determine if immigration enforcement action is required, taking into consideration the individual's immigration status, the severity of the crime and his or her criminal history. 

Does Secure Communities use racial profiling?

No, ALL arrestees who are fingerprinted at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center have their fingerprints sent to ICE, regardless of appearance, gender or presumed nationality.

Are all non-citizens subject to deportation?

ICE has a three-level priority system, with Level 1 crimes ranked as the highest priority:

  • Level 1 offenders: convicted of “aggravated felonies,” as defined in section 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or two or more crimes each punishable by more than one year, commonly referred to as “felonies.”
  • Level 2 offenders: convicted of any felony or three or more crimes each punishable by less than one year, commonly referred to as “misdemeanors;” and
  • Level 3 offenders: convicted of crimes punishable by less than one year.

Nationally in FY 2010, 15 percent of identified non-citizens were charged or convicted of a Level 1 offense, and 85% were charged or convicted of a Level 2 or 3 offense. 

How many non-citizens have been identified and removed from the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center?

Between March 2009, when the program started, and November 2010, ICE officials have identified 863 non-citizens in the Adult Detention Center. Of those identified, 357 have been removed. Of the removals, 83 were Level 1 offenders. 

Has Fairfax County ever declined to comply with an ICE detainer request made through Secure Communities?

A detainer is a legal hold. The Sheriff's Office has honored all ICE detainer requests.

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