Thursday, May 1, 2008

Five will be deported under new program (Business Gazette)

Five will be deported under new program

by Sherry Greenfield Staff Writer
Thursday, May 1, 2008

Frederick County sheriff’s deputies are now officially checking the immigration status of all people they arrest.

‘‘It has started, and we’ve already made a number of arrests,” Sheriff Chuck Jenkins (R) said this week.

As of Tuesday, deputies had arrested 18 illegal immigrants living in Frederick County. Of the 18, five are in the process of being deported from the country. Of those, four were previously arrested, but failed to go before a federal administrative law judge to determine if they should be deported. They are considered ‘‘absconders” for failing to appear before a judge, who has now ordered their immediate deportation, Jenkins said.

‘‘A judge issues an order of deportation and out they go,” he said.

In February, Jenkins announced that his department was accepted into the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) 287G program, which allows deputies to check the immigration status of those they arrest. The announcement set off some criticism from immigration supporters claiming that it would cause Hispanics to hide in fear. Immigration supporters argued that the program has caused fear of racial profiling by deputies.

Leading the opposition has been the Frederick County chapter of the NAACP. Its president, Guy Djoken, has made claims that all Hispanics are living in fear. Djoken has said he knows of illegal immigrants that were arrested by sheriff’s deputies before the 287G program officially started and deported to Texas. Jenkins disputes this.

When contacted this week, Djoken said he has heard nothing new from the Hispanic community.

‘‘... The community feels they have been targeted. Spiritual leaders have contacted me asking what they can do and a lot of [immigrants] are leaving town. I’ve been saying to them that they should not leave.”

Jenkins isn’t buying it.

‘‘The NAACP and Guy Djoken are doing nothing but alarming the immigrant population,” he said.

Jenkins is confident the program will run smoothly. He does not expect to encounter the problems Virginia’s Prince William County is now facing under the 287G program.

Last July, Prince William County police started checking the immigration status of the people they arrest. Supervisor Frank J. Principi, a Democrat from Woodbridge, is now trying to repeal the policy because it has led to unexpected and significant overcrowding at the county’s jail.

Nearly 400 illegal immigrants have been arrested and booked at the Prince William Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center since July.

Jenkins said he is aware of the problem in Prince William County, but is confident his deputies will not be arresting a large number of illegal immigrants.

‘‘I don’t see overcrowding at the detention center,” he said. ‘‘We’re not looking at a huge number of arrests.”

As of Tuesday, 33 illegal male immigrants were housed at the detention center, and four females. These include immigrants the sheriff’s department houses for ICE. Since July, ICE has been paying the county to house illegal immigrants who have been charged with crimes in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia.

Under the 287G program, 26 deputies have been trained in immigration law, intercultural relations and the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s database to positively identify whether those they arrest are illegal.

Of the 26, 10 are law enforcement deputies working on the streets and the other 16 are correctional officers working at the detention center, Jenkins said. At the detention center, the 16 officers handle the processing of all inmates. This includes checking their immigration status.

‘‘Everybody,” Jenkins said. ‘‘Every gender and every race. That way no one can cry ‘racial profiling.’”

Jenkins admits that it now takes longer to process inmates coming into the jail. But he expects in time as officers become more familiar with the process, it should go faster.

Finally, unlike Prince William County that has complained that ICE officers are taking too long to process illegal immigrants, Jenkins contends that in Frederick County they’re cooperative.

‘‘I can’t say enough good things about [ICE],” he said.

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