March 29, 2017
Fauquier jail seeks federal immigration law authority
File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
“It clarifies due process for those folks and puts in place a policy that’s open and transparent,” Sheriff Mosier says of his application for the federal immigration law enforcement program.
I don’t think the sheriff understands all the ramifications. He’s essentially voluntarily giving up authority to a federal agency, not just in criminal cases, but in civil matters as well . . . . His officers will be working under direct federal supervision.
— Virginia ACLU Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga
Despite rumors circulating in Fauquier, his deputies have not and will not go looking for undocumented immigrants, Sheriff Bob Mosier said this week.
Fauquier officers don’t ask about immigration status at routine traffic stops or during other interactions with civilians, Sheriff Mosier said.
But, he has applied for the county jail to participate in a federal program to enforce immigration laws, the sheriff explained.
Nationwide, only 37 local law enforcement agencies — including the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center — have officers trained and certified “to perform certain immigration enforcement functions,” as the Department of Homeland Security describes them.
> Prince William agreement at bottom of story
Sheriff Mosier on Feb. 8 sent a letter, requesting participation, to ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
If accepted, two deputies from the Fauquier County Adult Detention Center would go to Charleston, S.C., for a month of ICE training.
Under supervision of federal officials, those officers would have authority to detain illegal immigrants charged with crimes for up to 48 hours.
ICE would pay for the deputies’ training and related expenses — travel, lodging and meals — if the federal agency “determines the training provides a direct service,” according to agreements signed with other local police departments.
“It clarifies due process for those folks and puts in place a policy that’s open and transparent,” Sheriff Mosier said in an interview Tuesday.
As a practical matter, participation in the 287(g) jail program would do little to change the way the local detention center functions, according to sheriff’s Capt. Mark Lavoie, who manages the facility on West Lee Street in Warrenton.
Every time a criminal suspect gets arrested and booked at the jail, his or her fingerprints and other personal information go into state and national law enforcement databases, Capt. Lavoie said. The systems notify federal agencies, including ICE and the FBI, whenever a wanted person gets arrested.
Sometimes, federal agents will get involved; other times, they will determine the case fails to warrant their attention, Capt. Lavoie explained.
Last year, ICE detained 13 Fauquier suspects arrested and held here or in the Northwest Regional Jail at Winchester, according to the sheriff’s office.
So far this year, ICE has detained only one person arrested in Fauquier, and the sheriff’s office has one active detainer on file, waiting for that person to finish his local jail sentence.
Although Fauquier has a relatively small immigrant population, the sheriff’s application to work more closely with ICE has raised alarm in parts of the community.
“We’re very concerned about this,” said Debra Dodge, a retired airline pilot who lives near Marshall and who works with immigrant families.
Ms. Dodge and others help those families prepare for emergencies, such as arrest or deportation of a parent whose children remain behind. She noted that after President Donald Trump issued a Jan. 25 executive order on immigration enforcement, people stopped coming to English as a second language classes in Marshall. Organizers cancelled the sessions.
“There’s not a compelling reason for Fauquier County to do this,” Ms. Dodge said.
She called Sheriff Mosier “a good guy” and said participation in the ICE program “doesn’t seem to mesh with his stated goals.”
“We are a nation of immigrants,” said the sheriff, repeating his assertion that deputies won’t go looking for undocumented people. “But, we’re not gonna shy away from this. It’s part of the process . . . protecting due process.”
Ms. Dodge and other Fauquier citizens have sought help from the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
In a phone interview Tuesday night, state ACLU Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga predicted unintended consequences for the Fauquier County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies will end up dealing with expired tourist and student visas in addition to criminal cases, Ms. Gastañaga said.
“I don’t think the sheriff understands all the ramifications,” she added. “He’s essentially voluntarily giving up authority to a federal agency, not just in criminal cases, but in civil matters as well . . . . His officers will be working under direct federal supervision.”
On March 9, Ms. Gastañaga sent a letter, outlining the ACLU’s concerns, to the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and three other statewide organizations that represent local governments and law enforcement agencies.
“Given clear indications that the federal government now seeks to encourage, if not compel, local jurisdictions to directly support immigration enforcement . . . (the Virginia ACLU) writes to inform you and your members of potential challenges and legal liability associated with your involvement in federal immigration enforcement,” she wrote. (Letter at bottom of story.)
Ms. Gastañaga suggested local priorities, community relations, fiscal considerations and legal exposure make 287(g) agreements “a bad idea.”
In response to the local concerns, Sheriff Mosier distributed a statement about his office’s approach to “criminal aliens.”
It reads in part: “FSCO does not conduct ‘check points’ or other programs based solely on determining an individual’s immigration status.
“The Sheriff’s Office’s cooperation with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Adult Detention Center is one time when immigration status is checked for the purpose of detaining ‘CRIMINAL aliens’ for transfer to the proper legal authority.”
> Documents at bottom of story
The agency should learn next month whether ICE has accepted its application for the program.
Once local deputies undergo the four-week training, they must return to South Carolina for one week of recertification every two years.
FCSO & ICE by Fauquier Now on Scribd
170309 Ltr Immig Enf Policeshiefssheriffs FINAL by Fauquier Now on Scribd
r 287gprincewilliammanassasregionaljail by Fauquier Now on Scribd
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Jim Griffin · April 1, 2017 at 10:31 am
It is a surprise to see no response my accreditation question. I am surprised because while the good sheriff was running for election, supporters were touting accreditation as essential, the failure to achieve it as disqualifying to the incumbent sheriff (Fox):
That was 2015. Now 2017, our sheriff's office remains unaccredited, and we hear nothing about the topic.
So I ask: Where are we on the arc to accreditation? What can we do to help the sheriff achieve this important goal? When chasing the undocumented, it is wise to be fully documented and accredited as you do so.
Tell It Like It Is · March 30, 2017 at 7:14 am
Good question Jim. I believe the Town PD placed accreditation very high on it's priority list.
Jim Griffin · March 29, 2017 at 4:18 pm
Is there a status report for the accreditation efforts advanced as a "top priority" back in 2015 for the sheriff's office? I recall strong advocacy on the essential nature of accreditation, so I wonder how we can help our county achieve this important recognition. Perhaps it is imminent -- I do not know -- but I do recall it was considered among the very highest priorities for our new sheriff, and so it seems fair to wonder how that effort is going.
Wellitsthetruth · March 29, 2017 at 4:01 pm
>waits for the inevitable crap storm
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