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Discussion Title Secure Communities Illegal Immigration Program

The Sheriff’s Office has implemented a program called Secure Communities, administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which identifies illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes in Fairfax County. Sheriff Stan Barry answered your questions in a discussion about how this program makes Fairfax County safer, without profiling or enforcing immigration laws.


Stan Barry : Good afternoon and thanks for joining us to discuss the Secure Communities program we have implemented here in Fairfax. I should point out that I speak only for the Sheriff's Office and not the County Government.


Anonymous User : Why are so many other local governments choosing to not use this program? Does that pose any kind of issues for you along the border with Arlington and other counties?

Stan Barry : I can't speak for other governments, but the program works very well for us. It allows us to identify illegal aliens in the community who have committed crimes without spending any Fairfax County taxpayer money.


Guy Mullinax 703-877-5613 : How can a Sherriff take an oath to enforce the law say publicly he will not enforce our imagration laws. I would like a call back!

Stan Barry : Local public safety is not authorized to enforce federal immigration laws. We sought to be deputized by ICE, but they created this program instead. It actually benefits us because it accomplishes the same thing but with federal resources.


Anonymous User : How long has the County been implementing the Secure Community Program?

Stan Barry : March 2009. Since that time, ICE has identified 863 people for deportation and approximately half of those have been removed already.


Anonymous User : Is any special equipment needed to run the Secure Communities program?

Stan Barry : There was special video equipment purchased in order to interview suspected illegal aliens, but it was paid for by the federal government.


Anonymous User : What kinds of "serious crimes" have been committed that posed a threat to the county?

Stan Barry : People identified for deportation have to have committed what are termed class I offenses. Those are offenses such as murder, rape, robbery and drug distribution.


Anonymous User : When Centreville opens the Day Laborer Center will you be checking employers records to make sure they are not hiring an illegal when they pick up a worker from the center?

Stan Barry : No, we will not. Fairfax County public safety has decided that it is not in our best interest to go out into the community seeking illegal aliens. This could create a barrier between us and the public and it is possible that it would prevent them from reporting crimes. Also, as I said earlier, we do not have the legal authority since we were not deputized by ICE.


Renee : Has Fairfax County ever declined to comply with one of ICE's detainer requests made through Secure Communities?

Stan Barry : NO. Once a detainer has been placed, that is a legal hold and we are obligated to honor it.


Milagros Meléndez-Vela : There is a concern in the immigrant community about the fact that people who had been detained and released with no charges are being turned over ICE. Cases as the victim of domestic violance, that was charged for selling calling cards, later the charges were dismissed but now she faces deportation. Can you tell me, how many people in Fairfax County has been turn over ICE without having criminal charges?

Stan Barry : No one is reviewed by ICE without having been charged with a crime. ICE would not have access to any information unless the person is booked into the Detention Center.


Anonymous User : Why does it take so long to deport them and why is it at times the are released until the deportation date, which half the time no where to be found.

Stan Barry : We don't know how long the deportation process takes, but ICE removes them from our facility within 24 hours.


Anonymous User : Is there a record of how many of these illegal immigrants that are deported as a result of Secure Communities, make their way back into the U.S and are subsequently placed under arrest again?

Stan Barry : It's only been 18 months, but we know of no one who has made their way back to our jurisdiction.


Anonymous User : How do you determine if a prisoner is a "suspected" illegal immigrant? What do you based it on? At what level of a crime, does the sherriff’s office starts to determine if a person is an illegal immigrant?

Stan Barry : Everyone who is booked into the jail is screened. There is no profiling involved.


Bill : Do you have any information regarding the distribution of illegal immigrant apprehensions among the districts in Fairfax County? For example, is the rate higher in the district bordering Prince William county?

Stan Barry : We don't have that information.


Susan Bray : Sheriff Barry what is your position on ICE's policy to deport only those who have committed the most serious crimes(Level 1 offenders)? Most likely they have been arrested a number of times before and probably released after serving their sentence. Not to mention the safety threat to the community and depletion of resources on the criminal justice system despite federal grant money.

Stan Barry : ICE's decision to deport only level I offenders is based on their ability to sustain the program nationwide. They have said that there plan is to broaden the identification to level II prisoners once they can sustain the effort.


Anonymous User : Some argue that the Secure Communities program has led to racial profiling. Has there been any complaints made to the office?

Stan Barry : No. There have been no complaints of racial profiling. Again, everyone who is booked into the Detention Center is screened regardless of nationality, gender, or how they look.


Anonymous User : Wouldn't it be helpful to make sure that the public is aware of the two laws passed in 2008, one of which requires you, as Sheriff, to check the status of everyone arrested and taken into custody for a crime and brought to the jail and the other of which creates a presumption against bail for persons in the country without authority who are charged with certain crimes including drunk driving?

Stan Barry : Yes, that was a law passed by Virginia, and this program puts us in compliance with that law. The magistrates and judges set bail; the Sheriff does not.


Anonymous User : Of the 863 individuals identified, were they removed/deported pre-or post trial? What has happened to the rest? Do you have any information on the countries of origin of those deported. What evidence do you have that Fairfax County is safer. Are there any statistics to show that there has been a reduction of crime?

Stan Barry : All individuals are removed after they have completed any local sentence, and all charges against them have been settled. ICE keeps the statistics on the countries of origin. When criminals are being deported from the country, it is logical to conclude that our county is safer.


Renee : ICE data show they are also deporting people arrested for level 2 and 3 offenses. How do you feel about complying with ICE detainer requests for immigrants who are guilty of these low level offenses?

Stan Barry : ICE has various criteria for identifying people for deportation. They are focusing primarily on level I offenders, but there have been some cases of level II and III offenders being deported. We would honor any federal detainer placed by ICE, regardless of the level of offense.


Anonymous User : Is the screening done prior to the suspect's initial appearance before the court or is it done after bail has been set and the suspect is committed to the jail?

Stan Barry : The screening is done at the time they are booked into the jail.


Javier : Is my assumption correct to say that: *From this program there is no searching for illegal immigrants outside the jail? *Only prisoners who have been convicted of a crime will be checked for immigration status. *The level of crime of those to be search for their status should be within the term class I offenders only. Is there any money that is being spent from the County of Fairfax towards this program at all.

Stan Barry : You are correct. There are no local authorities out searching for illegal immigrants, and no Fairfax County money is being spent on this program.


Kimberly : You identfied those deported under the program are only "class I" offenders; however, as an attorney most of my clients who have been identified, served with ICE detainers and deported are not class I offenders. I also know that there has not been almost 900 illegal immigrants that have been charged with rape, robbery, murder adn drug distribution in Fairfax County since 2009. Doesn't this program net all illegal immigrants regardless of a conviction for a class I offense. Why is the jail not notifying the Courts, Defense attorney or the Commonwealth Attorney's office when detainees are taking from Fairfax County to Federal custody before trial.

Stan Barry : As I said earlier, ICE is focusing on class I offenders. However, they have criteria for identifying people and are deporting class II and III offenders. We only have 24 hours notice before the prisoner is removed by ICE, which makes it difficult to notify legal counsel.


Anonymous User : Do those detained and removed have the opportunity to contact their families here. Once deported are they taken to their country of origin or just across the border with Mexico?

Stan Barry : Everyone is allowed to contact their family after arrest and, if deported, they return to their county of origin.


Renee : Thank you for answering my other questions. I am also wondering what kind of impact you have seen on calls for help or crime tips from the immigrant community in your county since you began participating in S-Comm?

Stan Barry : Calls for help or crime tips go to the Fairfax County Police Dept. so we would not have access to those statistics.


Anonymous User : What are your thoughts on Arlington County trying to opt-out? Also, they had said that they had little notice about implementation of the program in their county. Could you also speak on how Fairfax was approached to be in the Secure Communities program?

Stan Barry : I can't speak for another jurisdiction, but Fairfax was approached as a result of our request to be deputized to enforce immigration laws.


Milagros Meléndez-Vela : Javier said that is only for people convicted of a crime, but I understand that any person who is booked into the jail go through the procedures. It does not matter that later the charges would be dropped

Stan Barry : That is correct. Everyone booked into the jail is screened, regardless of the eventual outcome of the charges.


Javier : Are there any funds/equipment received from ICE for the purpose of this program benefiting other programs or services currently in place at the County of Fairfax?

Stan Barry : No, there are not.


Braham Singh : In the list of TOP FIVE Things that needs doing by the Sheriff's department for us Fairfax tax payers, where should this illegal Immigration matter be, in the Sheriff's opinion? If No.1 or No.2, then on what basis does the Sheriff arrive at that conclusion? What percentage of local crime is being committed by IIs? As a resident of Okaton, the recent big scare my family had was a serial burgler in the Berrywood Farms area. I believe he was finally apprehended after months of terror. Was he an Ilegal immigrant? Thanks, Braham Singh, Fairfax, 22124.

Stan Barry : Our top three functions are to run the Adult Detention Center, provide security for the Courthouse, and serve civil process. Illegal immigration is not one of core functions. With Secure Communities, we were responding to concerns of the citizens of Fairfax County.


Javier : Following on Kimberly’s question: How does ICE know of the prisoners of class II, III, etc within Fairfax County Jails? What is the “criteria” that ICE is concentrating on?

Stan Barry : ICE knows about the prisoners because ALL prisoners are screened. Regarding the criteria, it is a combination of the charges and their immigration status. I'm not familiar enough with immigration law to describe the criteria in detail.


Kimberly : Thank you for answering my earlier question. I am concerned because you made it sound like some 900 illegal immigrants are cahrged with crimes like murder, robbery, rape and drug distribution. But that is not the case. Most are charges with class II and III level offense. I still do not understand why teh jail does not contact at least the court when it contacts the federal authorities that the person is ready for pick up. It seems in the age of email, it should be pretty simple.

Stan Barry : This is a reasonable point, and we will look into establishing a system of notifying the courts when these prisoners are being picked up by federal authorities.


Anonymous User : Since there is a state law that requires you to check status when someone is booked into the jail, how would the process of checking be different if you were not participating in Secure Communities?

Stan Barry : Prior to secure communities, the process was to ask the prisoner if he or she was in the country legally or illegally. These results would be reported to the state. As you can imagine, this was not a particularly effective investigative tool.


Anonymous User : In light of the importance of having the entire community of Fairfax County cooperate with law enforcement at every level, what reassurances would you give to the immigrant community that only people with the most severe offenses would be targeted for ICE investigation and deportation?

Stan Barry : Only those booked into the jail would be checked. No one in the community needs to fear that Fairfax public safety would be checking their immigration status out in the community.


Anonymous User : Federal authorities don't pick up someone who has been charged with a crime but hasn't yet been tried, do they? Isn't the outcome of the local charges determined before someone is picked up? ICE may serve the detainer while charges are pending, but someone isn't picked up and taken into custody by federal authorities until either the charges are dismissed or they've served their sentence on a state/local charge, right?

Stan Barry : That is correct.


Anonymous User : Why would a sworn officer of the law not enforce the immigration laws? This sounds illegal to me!

Stan Barry : We are not authorized to enforce immigration laws.


Javier : Sheriff, I don’t understand when you said only class I offenders are forwarded to ICE, but in other response you mention that all are checked regardless of crime or if they were judged as guilty or not. Where can I read the detailed information of this program? If all are checked for ICE purposes, then wouldn’t that affect the relations of the community and police?

Stan Barry : ICE is focusing their deportation efforts on class I offenders, but all people booked into the jail are screened for immigration status. The detailed information on immigration status can be found on the ICE website or by contacting ICE directly. http://www.ice.gov/about/offices/enforcement-removal-operations/secure-communities/


Renee : Does Fairfax County still want to participate in 287(g)? If so, where are you at in this process? If not, why?

Stan Barry : 287(g) is the deputization program that we were initially seeking so that we could enforce immigration laws. Secure Communities was created to replace 287(g). ICE no longer certifies any locality for the 287(g) program.


Anonymous User : If the program is supposed to target serious criminals then why does it operate pre conviction? aren't we all innocent until proven guilty?

Stan Barry : All people are screened on entry to the jail, but ICE focuses primarily on serious criminals for deportation procedures.


Anonymous User : How much reimbursement annually does the Office of the Sheriff obtain from ICE?

Stan Barry : ICE reimburses us for the cost to hold their prisoners. I don't have the specific amount that we have been reimbursed to date, but if you send an email to sheriff@fairfaxcounty.gov, we will get you that information.


I serve my country : Why does USICE not want US citizens to call and report illegal personnel? Do we not have the resources to listen to all calls? Why does this seem like an burden?

Stan Barry : I can't speak for ICE and what resources they do or don't have available.


Anonymous User : How many people deported under the program thus far were convicted (not solely charged) of serious crimes. What percentage is that of the total people deported under the program in Fairfax.

Stan Barry : I don't have the exact statistics of the charges of people deported. I will request that ICE compile those statistics, and we will post them on our web page as soon as they are available.


Stan Barry : I said earlier that ICE no longer grants 287(g) authority to local public safety entities. That is not correct. ICE will still grant local agencies that authority. However, I believe that Secure Communities meets our county's needs and does not cost the taxpayer any money.


Anonymous User : Sheriff, I urge you to ask ICE for total figures of deportation under the program. More than half of the people deported are in fact not serious criminals, but rather "non-criminals" (people not convicted of anything) or low level offenders that pose no threat to public safety. please visit www.uncoverthetruth.org for stats received under federal FOIA

Stan Barry : As I said earlier, we are going to seek the statistics from ICE and post them on our website. www.fairfaxcounty.gov/sheriff


Stan Barry : Thanks very much for all of the questions. Hopefully, I've shed some light on this program. I look forward to talking with you in this forum in the future. Stan


Gregory Licamele : Posted Dec. 6: Following the discussion, we have some additional information to share about Secure Communities. 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. In Fairfax County—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. For more information about the county's program, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/sheriff/faqs-secure-communities.htm

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