Jail Beefs Up Screening For Illegal Immigrants

Last week, Prince William  Regional Jail  joined a federal system called Secure Communities.  Secure Communities, a part of DHS, takes the process of checking the status and criminal background of illegal immigrants a step further than the 287(g) program.   Secure Communities creates an information sharing system that enables jurisdictions across the United States to access more comprehensive federal records. 

According to last Thursday’s Washington Post:

“Secure Communities is a Department of Homeland Security initiative to more broadly manage and modernize the processes used to identify and ultimately remove dangerous criminal aliens from our communities,” said Marc Rapp, acting executive director of Secure Communities. “Our goal with this effort is to use information sharing to prevent criminal aliens from being released back into the community, with little or no additional burden on our local law enforcement partners.”

Under Secure Communities, the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center can access Homeland Security’s biometrics-based immigration records. Previously, the jail accessed only the FBI’s criminal records during booking as part of what is known as the 287(g) program.

Col. Peter A. Meletis, the jail’s superintendent, said that officials launched the program locally last week and that it does not cost the 12 state and local law enforcement agencies that use the jail anything. Booking officials at the jail simply run the fingerprints of an arrestee simultaneously through the FBI and Homeland Security systems; one largely identifies a person’s criminal activity, and the other better identifies immigration status.

Jail Superintendent Pete Meletis says that this new program just gives the jail  additonal tools to work with.  Fairfax and Prince William are the only 2 jurisdictions in Virginia who utilize Secure Communities because of the high concentration of what ICE deems to be criminal illegal immigrants. 

An ICE detainer allows the criminal to be held after the sentence has been served.  ICE makes the final evaluation about what to do with the detainee.  Congress has allocated 1.4 billion dollars to ICE for enforcement efforts against criminal illegal immigrants.