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ICE Director: Arlington Can’t Opt Out of Secure Communities

by ARLnow.com October 11, 2010 at 10:03 am 1,390 21 Comments

Arlington’s quest to opt out of the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program has hit a brick wall. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton tells the Associated Press that local governments cannot withdraw from Secure Communities, because the program is between states and the federal government.

Secure Communities checks the immigration status of those booked into local jails by comparing fingerprints sent to the FBI’s criminal database to an ICE immigration database. Because the fingerprints are first sent to the state, which then sends them to the FBI, local communities can’t opt out, Morton said.

He also dispelled the notion that Secure Communities forces local police departments to enforce immigration laws.

“No one in the Department of Corrections, no one in Arlington County, no one in the other jurisdictions of Virginia is being asked to enforce federal immigration law,” Morton told the AP. (That, despite this press release announcing the successful conclusion of a joint local, state and federal immigration enforcement operation in Virginia last week. Morton himself traveled to Richmond to join Gov. Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in announcing deportation proceedings against 13 immigrants convicted of sex crimes in Virgina.)

On Thursday, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan sent a letter to Morton asking for clarification on whether Arlington can withdraw from Secure Communities. Morton says he’ll meet with individual localities to discuss the issue.

So far, federal authorities say Secure Communities has helped facilitate the removal of 40,000 criminal illegal immigrants.

  • tuesdayschild

    Is this an ironic or an appropriate news development for Columbus Day? Either way, a good result.

  • BallstonNOTBoston

    Good!

    Now can ICE do anything about these stink bugs? Perhaps some kind of border, they can’t even speak English, and they stink.

    • GA

      I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.

  • Tom Lang

    Believe me, the politicos of Arlington Co. will spend whatever it takes to bring a successful suit against the Commonwealth of VA or the federal government to honor their Democratic constituency. Arlington government wishes itself to be the 53rd state right after Tacoma Park, MD.

  • SD

    “Secure Communities checks the immigration status of those booked into local jails by comparing fingerprints sent to the FBI’s criminal database to an ICE immigration database. ”
    In my opinion we should be doing this anyhow! How on earth is checking the status infringing on anyone’s “civil liberties”? No different that checking the person’s prior record for outstanding warrants and things like that. All part of the process to make sure we don’t let the bad guys go back to the streets.

    “So far, federal authorities say Secure Communities has helped facilitate the removal of 40,000 criminal illegal immigrants.”

    Excellent! Glad to see we WILL be participating!

    • GA

      Isn’t “criminal illegal immigrants” a bit redundant? Illegal is criminal.

      • SD

        Not so to our trusty leaders want to protect the non-criminal “illegal immigrants”. I guess to them an illegal status is not a crime?

      • Just the Facts

        This is the most-often repeated lie about illegal immigration. A significant proportion (just short of half) of illegal immigrants have committed only a civil immigration violation. Unless they have committed some other crime, many, many illegal immigrants are not criminals and are not subject to arrest or other criminal sanctions.

        Come on people, if we’re going to have any sort of worthwhile debate, we have to know what we’re talking about.

        • KalashniKev

          “Unless they have committed some other crime, many, many illegal immigrants are not criminals”

          “Other Crime…” not a criminal… first crime(?)… can’t… wrap… head… Aghhh!

          How many crimes must one commit before they’re a “criminal?” Or is it just when it’s a crime you don’t happen to like? What about non-violent drug offenders? Consentual sex with a minor? DUI a little over the limit?

          Here’s a fact: Illegal Aliens are Criminals.

          • Brian

            False.

            Violations of criminal law are crimes. These include murder, rape and robbery.

            Crossing the border without authorization would be a violation of civil or administrative law. Such violations are “illegal,” but they are not crimes.

  • tuesdayschild

    And look who is up for re-election next year, the very Board member that was the lead on this mess……

    Walter Tejada (D) Four years; office elected 2011

    • Frenchy B

      Yeah, I really wish his term was up this year.

      • Kalashnikev

        Me too!

        I’m thoroughly disgusted by his behavior. I’m sure the rest of the board is just as bad, but using him as a mouthpiece on this issue was smart- it was guaranteed failure from the beginning!

      • Brian

        Zimmerman is up for reelection this year and he hasn’t been shy in supporting opting out of the program. He even said that it goes against “our” core values to participate in the program.

        Let’s all start the house cleaning process by voting Zimmerman out of office this year.

  • MC

    There is no legal surprise here, and the Mr. Tejada and the rest of the Board will be disingenuous to pretend otherwise. There was never any “confusion” and the posturing and administrative maneuvering has been a shameful waste of tax money.

    What *is* shocking is when you read Mr Tejada’s quote in the linked AP article. He defends his legally dubious attitudes by appealing to “racial profiling” by the government, which no one living in Arlington can honestly say is a problem at all. In fact, by equating native-born and legally-naturalized Latinos with illegal immigrants who willfully flout immigration laws as wells as employment, DMV, IRS and other state and federal laws, Mr Tejada unfairly tarnishes the many Americans citizens of Latino origin in Arlington who observe state and federal laws and pay taxes. I would like to see such folks call out Mr Tejada and others who appeal to bloodlines as the basis for what’s fair. What is fair is when people play by the rules — many immigrants do so, and Mr. Tejada is wrong to cast Arlington’s foreign-born citizens as prosecuted outlaws.

    • Just the Facts

      “Mr. Tejada is wrong to cast Arlington’s foreign-born citizens as prosecuted outlaws”

      Um, I think you mean “persecuted.” Outlaws ARE prosecuted. Nice try though!

    • Lou

      Agreed, any surprise is feigned. I would like to hear the County Attorney speak to the nature of his counsel on this issue. I’m surprised that he has not been included in any of the public discussion of this, for I certainly hope he was consulted. It’s only been the Board/politicians talking so far.

  • t

    why do we want to opt out of a program that deports criminals? WE DON’T. bye-bye criminals, we won’t miss you.

    • KalashniKev

      Some of them are Tejada’s amigos…

  • DT

    Keep on electing these ultra-left wingers and you get what you deserve, Arlington. Did you see the other two places who tried to opt out? Nice company you keep.

  • LawAbider

    This is great news but I have a problem with what John Morton said “No one in the Department of Corrections, no one in Arlington County, no one in the other jurisdictions of Virginia is being asked to enforce federal immigration law.”. Is he saying that only the Federal government should be enforcing immigration laws or is he saying that Arlington does not have to follow procedures to notify and detain an illegal immigrant? My guess is the latter which is very disturbing. What good are laws if they are not enforced? Why jurisdictions would want illegal persons living in their community is beyond me, by not enforcing immigration laws is encouraging criminals to live amongst law abiding citizens. Citizenship is something you earn and the fact that people who cross the border illegally and others who overstay their visa are not being sought after is the reason this country is basically losing it’s prestige’s status and destroying our communities. I’m just shocked that it takes being arrested to check a person’s status, it shouldn’t matter whether a person has committed a crime (civil or criminal) or not, illegal is illegal. I just don’t get it.

    Yes, if a person does something illegal he or she has committed a crime which makes that person a criminal. Illegal aliens are criminals and all of them should be treated as such. I just feel really bad for those who have followed proper procedures to become a citizen. Basically what we are saying by not going after every illegal alien is that becoming a citizen of the U.S. doesn’t really mean much anymore. Very sad.

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