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Virginia Sheriffs' Institute
Supporting Virginia’s Sheriffs & Deputies

Immigration Records to Be Checked on Jail Detainees 

On March 9, 2009, the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office became the first law enforcement agency in Virginia and the Washington metropolitan area to receive access to a program called Secure Communities, administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Secure Communities will streamline the process for ICE to determine if an individual in local custody is a potentially deportable criminal alien.

Under the program, ICE agents will check available criminal and immigration records of every individual booked by Sheriff’s deputies. The focus will be on identifying criminal aliens who have been convicted of Level 1 crimes, which include major drug offenses and violent offenses such as murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping. ICE agents will interview inmates using video teleconferencing equipment in the Adult Detention Center. 

“This is a win-win situation both for the community and law enforcement,” said Fairfax County Sheriff Stan Barry. “We will be able to identify illegal immigrants who commit crimes in Fairfax County and get them in the process for deportation, and it does not require additional funds or manpower from us.”

With the implementation of Secure Communities, not only will the arrestees’ fingerprints be checked for criminal history information against the Department of Justice (DOJ) biometric system maintained by the FBI, the fingerprints will be checked simultaneously against the biometrics based records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If an arrestee’s fingerprints match those of a person in the DHS biometric system, the new automated process will notify ICE and the Sheriff’s Office. ICE will evaluate each case to determine the individual’s immigration status and take appropriate enforcement action.  

Secure Communities enhances the ongoing joint efforts by ICE and the law enforcement agencies in Virginia. Eventually, in collaboration with DOJ and other DHS components, ICE plans to expand this capability to all state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the nation.

In fiscal year 2008, ICE identified more than 221,000 potentially deportable aliens incarcerated nationwide. This fiscal year, the agency anticipates spending more than $1 billion on such efforts, which in addition to Secure Communities, also includes expansion of the agency’s Criminal Alien Program and Fugitive Operations Program. 

“Secure Communities is a new effort to identify and ultimately remove dangerous criminal aliens from our communities,” said Executive Director for ICE Secure Communities David Venturella. “Our goal with this ICE program is to use technology to prevent criminal aliens from being released back into the community, with little or no additional burden on our local law enforcement partners.” 

For more information, please contact the Sheriff’s Public Information Office at 703-246-3251 (TTY 711) or via e-mail.