Should local law-enforcement agencies enforce federal immigration law? That’s a debate that’s currently playing out in jails across Virginia.
Later this month, Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with Immigration and Customs Enforcement allowing his deputies to help enforce federal immigration laws. It’s a controversial program known as 287(g). So far, 76 agencies in 20 states participate, although currently only one in Virginia — the Prince William County Jail. Sheriff Jenkins will run the second jail in Virginia to join the program.
“We will have officers trained and certified to try to determine if these people are illegal and through the proper communications be able to detain them for ICE for whatever it is they do. Whether they have a deportation hearing or not is beyond us.”
Claire Gastanaga at the ACLU of Virginia says this agreement will turn local officers into federal agents.
“The sheriff no longer has any supervisory responsibility for these folks. They work for the federal government on the tax payer’s nickel, and they are doing the federal government’s enforcement job.”
The sheriff in Fauquier County considered joining the program, but eventually decided not to after a backlash against the controversial program there.