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Groups protest illegal immigrant detention center
by the AP, 3/7/09
FARMVILLE, Va. - Groups from across Virginia plan are protesting a detention center being built in Farmville to hold illegal immigrants.
About 150 people gathered Saturday for a rally and protest.
Farmville signed a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in September to house illegal immigrants. The town subcontracted with private investors, Immigration Centers of America-Farmville, who are putting up the $21 million to build the center.
ICA will get about $60 per day per detainee from the federal government, while the town will keep $2 each.
Prince William officers given choice to check immigration status
by Dan Genz, The Examiner, May 31, 2008
Police officers will have the choice to decide whether to check a suspected illegal immigrant's residency status under revisions to Prince William County's illegal-immigration crackdown.
The lack of identification or faulty ID still will be used as a basis for checking the legal status of residents and suspects under the new rules, expected to start in late June. But officers will not be required to check residency status unless the suspect has been arrested for a local or state crime.
Ex-Employees at Va. Resort Await Immigration Hearings
By Bill Brubaker for the Washington Post, May 18, 2008
Six weeks after immigration agents raided Lansdowne Resort in Loudoun County, most of the 59 workers arrested on civil charges of entering the United States illegally have been released from custody while they await hearings on their immigration status, authorities said.
Six of the former workers have been deported or left the country voluntarily, resolving their cases, and one has been charged with a criminal offense, officials said.
Jose Manuel Guerra, 47, a native of El Salvador, has been charged with using bogus Social Security and alien registration numbers to get a job at Lansdowne, according to court documents. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
Guerra admitted to a federal agent that he bought a fake U.S. immigration resident alien card from an unknown person on an unknown street in the District for $50, court documents say.
Two workers face immigration counts - The remaining 31 arrested at the U.S. courthouse site probably will be deported
By MARK BOWES for the TIMES-DISPATCH, May 14, 2008
A federal grand jury will consider immigration-related criminal charges against two of the 33 workers arrested last week in a raid of the construction site for the new federal courthouse in downtown Richmond.
After preliminary hearings yesterday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Magistrate Judge M. Hannah Lauck found probable cause to send the charges against the two Mexican nationals to a grand jury. She ordered both men held without bond.
Hugo Dominguez Cano, 33, is charged with re-entering the U.S. after being deported in March 2006, according to a federal affidavit.
The second worker, Juan Perez-Hernandez, 23, is charged with possessing a counterfeit alien-resident card.
33 workers arrested in immigration raid
By MARK BOWES for the TIMES-DISPATCH, May 7, 2008
Federal immigration officials raided the construction site for the new federal courthouse in downtown Richmond this morning and arrested 33 workers on immigration violations.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents rounded up 29 men and four women working at the site who were residing here illegally. They were charged with immigration violations and are being detained for further processing, said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for ICE in Washington.
The workers' native countries included Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru, Fobbs said.
Immigration Major Issue In Herndon Mayoral Election
NBC4, May 2, 2008
In 2006, Steve DiBenedittis won an emotional upset victory. The political novice drove out an incumbent mayor with a promise to close the town's controversial day labor center.
DiBenedittis and city council members kept their promise, shutting the center down.
Now clusters of workers have begun to gather outside businesses again, but DiBenedittis rejects criticism that the problem has shifted back to the streets.
"We're not back where we were before. First, we don't have a taxpayer-funded day labor site that helps people who can't legally find work, so that's an improvement," he said. "We're working with the businesses and no longer telling them they have to put up with an informal site existing on their property."
Councilman Harlon Reece is challenging DiBenedittis. Reese supported the day labor center. He said the fallout over the controversy is what motivated his run for mayor.
Va. County Limits Plan for Immigration Checks
by Jennifer Ludden for NPR, April 30, 2008
All Things Considered, April 30, 2008 · Citing budget concerns, authorities in Virginia's Prince William County have scaled back an aggressive policy to check immigration status. A law aimed at checks on the legal status of anyone police stop will now be applied only in case of arrest.
Budget Shortfall May End Illegal Immigration Crackdown
ABC 7, April 24, 2008
Prince William County (web|news) 's illegal immigration policy faces a major challenge before it's even two months old as supervisor Frank Principi reportedly wants to end immigrant police checks because of budget shortfalls.
Principi is the first member of the board of supervisors to challenge the enforcement element of the county's recent crackdown on illegal immigration. The crackdown was approved in October, when Principi was not on the board. The policy also denies some county services to illegal immigrants.
Pr. William May Revisit Immigrant Policy - Supervisor Wants Police Checks Ended
By Kristen Mack for the Washington Post, April 24, 2008
A Prince William County supervisor said yesterday that he will seek to repeal a key part of the county's illegal immigration policy that directs police officers to check the citizenship or immigration status of criminal suspects they believe might be in the country unlawfully.
Frank J. Principi (D-Woodbridge), the only supervisor who was not on the board when it approved the crackdown in October, said he will offer a resolution Tuesday to rescind police enforcement.
It is the first time that a county board member has challenged the underpinning of the crackdown, which in addition to increasing law enforcement denies certain services to illegal immigrants. The policy, which took effect March 3, has led to crowding at the county jail and a request from the police for video cameras in patrol cars to protect officers from accusations of racial profiling.
Principi's concern was prompted by a unanimous board vote Tuesday night to slash $3.1 million from the 2009 budget for enforcement of the policy, including the video cameras.
Immigration Fight Has a New Target - Stewart Hurts Pr. William's Prospects With Harsh Rhetoric, Some Say
by Dan Genz for The Examiner, April 21, 2008
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Federal agents in just over a week removed more than 100 suspected illegal immigrants from the Prince William County jail, eliminating the immigration-related overcrowding at the Manassas facility.
The loading up of detainees in repeated trips since April 10 answered complaints from the jailhouse and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., that the federal government was not living up to its 2007 contract with the county and taking weeks to remove inmates who should have been removed in days.
“Their response has been excellent,” said Patrick Hurd, the jail board chairman whose March 22 letter warned Immigration and Customs Enforcement that officials could be forced to release illegal immigrants without prompt federal attention because the jail had become so overcrowded.
Immigration Fight Has a New Target - Stewart Hurts Pr. William's Prospects With Harsh Rhetoric, Some Say
By Kristen Mack for the Washington Post, April 20, 2008
When Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey A. Stewart dressed down the police chief for hosting a public meeting with the Mexican consul to discuss the county's controversial immigration policy, Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel was appalled.
Schlossberg-Kunkel, a Haymarket activist who had supported Stewart since 2006, and several other county residents showed up at a recent board meeting and demanded Stewart apologize to Chief Charlie T. Deane. Her voice pleading, Schlossberg-Kunkel admonished Stewart for his harsh rhetoric on immigration, which she said threatened to ruin the county's reputation.
"You were in my home for a fundraiser. I felt like I knew you," she said. "I don't know the person you are anymore, Corey."
She is not alone in her concern. Elected officials and business leaders in Prince William say they are worried that the county's focus on illegal immigration is hurting Prince William's image at a critical time in its growth and effort to remake itself.
Immigration Officials Pick Up 60 Detainees At Prince William Jail
AP, April 15, 2008
MANASSAS, Va. -- More than 60 suspected illegal immigrants detained at the Prince William County Jail have been picked up by federal immigration authorities since Friday.
The transfers come after complaints by jail officials that federal agents were taking weeks to pick up the immigrants, rather than 72 hours under an agreement that went into effect in July.
Officials said crowding at the jail had hit an all-time high because of the delays, and that the jail was spending $220,000 a month to house inmates elsewhere in the state.
Rep. Frank Wolf wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff last week, asking that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement speed the transfers.
An Immigration Crackdown Has Unintended Effects
by Jennifer Ludden for NPR, April 14, 2008
A controversial new immigration law in Prince William County, Va., is getting mixed reviews so far. Some laud the arrest of dozens of illegal immigrants for minor crimes and the deportation of hundreds as a sign of success. Others lament a 40-percent drop in sales at some businesses and worsening housing foreclosures.
Held hostage by immigration rules
The Virginian-Pilot, April 13, 2008
LAST FALL, the owners of a Newport News fishing company were charged with hiring more than 100 illegal immigrants. The owners pleaded guilty and agreed to pay fines of nearly $7 million. That's fair enough. They broke the rules and they were punished.
This spring, small businesses are preparing for crab harvests, tourist season and construction projects. They need workers to package seafood, operate hotels, lay bricks. Many rely on immigrants in this country on temporary work visas.
The immigrant workers and their employers are following the rules. But they're being punished, too. Federal law allows a maximum of 66,000 seasonal workers to receive visas each year. Congress permitted an extra 37,000 in the program in 2006, but that loophole expired last fall. In order to qualify, employers had to prove that they had tried to fill the jobs with American workers.
Because these jobs are low-paying, the businesses often have trouble finding takers. Now some are facing financial ruin because they can't import employees.
Rep. Thelma Drake is seeking an extension so that businesses can continue to legally hire foreign workers, but the legislation has become mired in the larger debate over immigration reform.
Federal immigration officials raid Loudoun resort; 59 arrested
by William C. Flook, The Examiner, April 9, 2008
WASHINGTON (Map, News) - Federal immigration authorities arrested 59 workers at a luxury Loudoun County resort Tuesday on suspicion of being in the country illegally.
The early-morning raid at Lansdowne Resort by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents was the result of an inspection into the workers’ employment documents that began in the summer, said ICE spokesman Michael Keegan.
He said the agency found the suspected illegal immigrants had falsified or stolen I-9 forms, which certify the legal ability to work in the United States.
Of the 59 workers, two females were immediately released for “humanitarian concerns,” and six were arrested outside of Lansdowne. About 100 employees were interviewed, according to ICE.
Police give more detail on illegal immigration crackdown
AP, April 3, 2008
WOODBRIDGE, Va. (AP) - Prince William County Police Chief Charlie Deane says only 2 of the 89 people questioned about their citizenship or immigration status were found to be in the country legally during the first month of increased illegal immigration enforcement in the county.
Deane says the rest are thought to be in the country illegally, but only 2 of those 87 were detained on immigration-related charges.
He says 7 of those questioned face felonies - including attempted murder and shoplifting. Another 32 people were charged with misdemeanors - including domestic assault and public drunkenness - and 25 others received citations for minor offenses.
Police are referring the 87 cases to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
41 Arrested in First Month Of Stricter Immigration Policy
By Kristen Mack for the Washington Post, April 2, 2008
Nearly 100 people have been questioned about their citizenship status in Prince William County since a crackdown on illegal immigration went into effect a month ago, Police Chief Charlie T. Deane told supervisors yesterday.
Most of the checks have occurred during traffic stops and calls for service, Deane said. Forty-one of the 89 people whom officers questioned were arrested on various charges and taken to the county's adult detention center.
Project Immigration: Help Save Loudoun Seeks Businesses With Legal Workers
ABC 7 News, March 28, 2008
Critics of illegal immigration say one way to stop it is to go after businesses who hire illegal workers. Now one Loudoun County (web|news) group is encouraging you to only work with companies that follow the law.
Longtime northern Virginia business owners say illegal immigration has devastated certain industries, especially construction and remodeling. They say illegal workers earn significantly lower wages and that's helped cause their businesses to plummet by as much as 25 percent in the last few years.
Immigration Agency Arrests 34 Workers At Construction Firm
By N.C. Aizenman for the Washington Post, March 25, 2008
Federal immigration authorities converged on a Prince William County construction company just before sunrise yesterday, arresting 34 Latin American nationals for being in the country illegally.
Workplace raids are rare in the Washington area, and the roundup at CMC Concrete Construction in the Manassas area appears to be the largest in the region in nearly two years, according to a review of news releases on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Web site.
The workers -- who come from Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and El Salvador -- are being charged administratively and are in ICE custody undergoing deportation proceedings, said Ernestine Fobbs, a spokeswoman for the customs agency.
News of the arrests spread quickly through an immigrant community already on edge after a county law took effect this month allowing Prince William police to check the immigration status of people stopped for other infractions.
Va. congressmen want better police access to immigration data
AP, March 17, 2008
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Three Virginia congressmen want federal officials to make it easier for police to determine whether criminal suspects are illegal immigrants.
Police in many localities now use the honor system, asking suspects from other countries about their immigration status when they're arrested. A national database lets police check their criminal history.
But Republican Congressman Eric Cantor said that database doesn't include immigration status, which is maintained in a separate database by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Illegal Immigration Issues Attract Little Interest Outside N.Va.
By Anita Kumar for the Washington Post, March 15, 2008
RICHMOND, March 14 -- A divided Virginia General Assembly killed most proposals to crack down on illegal immigration during its annual session, despite legislators' repeated pledges to address the growing population in last fall's campaign.
Of the 130 immigration bills introduced, only a handful passed before the legislature finished Thursday. The bills that would have penalized illegal immigrants died during the session, a sign that the issue lacks a sense of urgency statewide.
"I think the problem here is that there are not enough localities that are feeling the same pain as exploding localities like Prince William," said Del. Paul F. Nichols (D-Prince William). "It's frustrating."
Bills that passed will deny bail to illegal immigrants charged with a crime, require jails to check the legal status of those taken into custody and prohibit government contractors from hiring illegal immigrants.
Eight Indicted For Immigration Fraud in Virginia
Keith Jones - Courtesy WHSV.Com, March 11, 2008
U.S. Attorney John Brownlee announced in a press conference Tuesday that indictments have been handed up to eight individuals for conspiring to violate federal immigration laws. The investigation took place in the Harrisonburg, Virginia area.
According to Brownlee, the investigation dates back to August 2007 and federal officials are getting closer to fixing what they call a growing problem.
"Defendant Jairo Gomez loaded the confidential informant and several other illegal aliens into a van here in Harrisonburg and drove them to Ohio," says Brownlee.
In Ohio, Brownlee says illegal documentation is easier to obtain. Gomez, along with Edwin Mendez, both out of Harrisonburg, would organize the trip.
Immigration-Linked Prostitution Cases Pose Challenge - Pr. William Crackdown Highlights Complex Legal Issues
By Theresa Vargas for the Washington Post, March 7, 2008
The business cards handed to men at a North Woodbridge grocery store didn't say much. Just a first name, a cellphone number and the phrase Casa de Carne, or House of Meat.
But their simplicity made clear the illicit purpose: sex.
Authorities say the cards solicit customers for highly organized prostitution rings that cater to Hispanic immigrants and chauffeur women from out of state. Although prostitution crosses ethnic and racial lines, these immigration-related cases raise complex questions about the interplay of local and federal law and are likely to pose special challenges for Prince William County police in the push against illegal immigration that began this week.
The police department has said it will treat illegal immigrants who are criminals differently from those who are crime victims. But in prostitution cases, the women involved might be both.
House kills bill barring inquiry into immigration status
NBC 12 News, March 6, 2008
The House of Delegates has rejected legislation prohibiting police officers from asking crime victims and witnesses about their immigration status.
Delegates voted 52-46 Wednesday to kill Senator Janet Howell's bill, which the Senate had passed unanimously.
Delegate David Albo of Fairfax County said the bill was intended to encourage illegal aliens to cooperate in criminal investigations. He said the bill would help police put members of
immigrant gangs behind bars.
Latinos Looking Over Shoulder - Pr. William Begins Checking Suspects' Immigration Status
By Pamela Constable and Nick Miroff for the Washington Post, March 3, 2008
Work-van drivers signaled long before their turns to avoid being pulled over for a traffic violation. Day laborers skipped their early morning coffee at 7-Eleven, and merengue tunes played to empty tables at Latino lunch counters across Prince William County yesterday.
It was the first day of a county ordinance that allows police to check people's immigration status for even minor legal infractions.
Police officials pledged to enforce the law fairly and to not stop and question individuals based on their racial or ethnic appearance, but many Hispanic residents said they feared they would be stopped without reason and deported for such violations as driving without a valid license or having a broken taillight.
Manassas Police to Screen for Immigration Status - Council Gives Approval for Process Triggered by Certain Crimes, With Deportation a Possibility
By Nick Miroff for the Washington Post, February 28, 2008
Manassas police will soon begin ratcheting up immigration enforcement in the city, after council members voted unanimously Monday night to hire three police officers and provide seven others with training in federal immigration laws.
Under a new agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), city officers will be able to screen offenders and initiate deportation proceedings against illegal immigrants suspected of committing certain crimes. A broad range of offenses would trigger the immigration checks, ranging from serious offenses, such as robbery and assault, to minor crimes, such as gambling, vandalism and shoplifting.
Coast Guardsman guilty of passing info on immigration probe
By Tim McGlone for The Virginian-Pilot, February 23, 2008
Coast Guard petty officer Morris Wade Hughes threw away a 20-year career by trying to help his mistress evade federal immigration rules and fishing regulations, a federal court jury found this week.
A jury in U.S. District Court convicted Hughes of three misdemeanors for passing confidential information on illegal immigra tion investigations to his one-time girlfriend who works for a fishing company that employed undocumented workers.
The jury, however, found Hughes not guilty of a more serious felony conspiracy charge. The verdict was handed down Thursday evening after a two-day trial.
Hughes, 50, of Chesapeake, was indicted in December on charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, unauthorized access of government computers, and unlawful disclosure of confidential information.
36 convicted sex offenders arrested in Virginia on immigration violations
By Jen McCaffery for The Virginian-Pilot, February 20, 2008
State and federal agents have arrested 36 convicted sex offenders in Virginia accused of immigration violations as part of a new effort called “Operation Cold Play.”
At a news conference today, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell announced the first phase of an ongoing initiative with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Virginia State Police to deport convicted sex offenders in Virginia who are in the state illegally.
Immigration Program Drains Reserves - $800,000 From Rainy-Day Fund Will Pay for Police Checks on Citizenship
By Kristen Mack, Washington Post, February 20, 2008
Cash-strapped Prince William County nearly cleaned out its rainy-day fund yesterday to pay for the start-up cost of increasing law enforcement directed at illegal immigrants.
The Board of County Supervisors unanimously approved transferring almost $800,000 from reserves, leaving Prince William with about $3,000 to spend on unexpected expenses before the budget year ends June 30.
Businesses Fight Anti-Illegal Immigration Messures
Washington Examiner, December 8, 2007
Virginia businesses are uniting to fight state proposals that would target employers who hire illegal immigrants. Virginia Employers for Sensible Immigration Policy says the new proposals would only duplicate what the federal government already requires.
The coalition says most of the proposed measures are likely to be thrown out in court if they pass.
Keith Cheatham is a vice president of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. He says many of the proposals wouldn't be sensible or practical.
But the state lawmakers who are preparing immigration legislation say they're concerned about lax federal enforcement.
ICx Technologies Debuts on Stock Market - Arlington Homeland Security Firm Raises $80 Million
By Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post Staff Writer, November 9, 2007
ICx Technologies, an Arlington homeland security company with a slate of former government officials serving as board members and top executives, went public yesterday, raising $80 million.
Warner Signs Immigrant Aid Limits
By Chris L. Jenkins, Washington Post Staff Writer, March 30, 2005
RICHMOND, March 29 -- Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) signed a measure Tuesday that tightens laws prohibiting illegal immigrants from receiving public benefits, including Medicaid and public assistance.
On the last day the governor could act on the nearly 950 bills that passed the Republican-controlled General Assembly, Warner waded into an issue that divided the legislature this year: what public benefits and other services the state should offer to illegal immigrants, a population that has nearly tripled in Virginia since 1996, according to federal estimates.