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10,000 Criminal Aliens in Your Community?

IRLI finds Virginia county once removed them; now decides to keep them


WASHINGTON—Before recently ending its cooperation agreement with federal immigration authorities, a Virginia county near our nation’s capital had removed nearly 10,000 illegal and criminal aliens for deportation proceedings, an Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) investigation has found.


Upon IRLI’s request, the government of Prince William County, Va., released documentation showing that the county handed over 9,537 illegal and criminal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since 2007.


On June 17 of this year, the county’s Jail Board voted to allow its 287(g) program to expire. The program called for cooperation between local jurisdictions and ICE to remove aliens, many of whom had been arrested for myriad crimes. The board, of which a majority of its members are now anti-borders policy activists, conducted hearings before the vote which included testimony from law enforcement officials.


Representatives from ICE testified that of the 2,639 inmates transferred to ICE since 2017, more than half had served time for driving under the influence. Sixty-five inmates faced murder charges, and 277 were accused of sexual assault. With the 287(g) agreement now expired, such inmates could be released back into the local community.


“For the county to let its 287(g) program expire shows a shocking level of irresponsibility to its residents,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “The fact that nearly 10,000 illegal aliens, many of whom were charged with violent crimes, were removed was a good thing. Now there could be untold aliens facing murder, rape and drunk driving charges in that community who otherwise would be processed for deportation. When county residents are victimized by these aliens, the Jail Board will have a lot to answer for.”


What kind of people were picked up in the county’s 287(g) program? One was Celio Alexander Serrano-Trejo. The Prince William Police Department arrested him in November 2019, and then learned he had a criminal arrest warrant in his native El Salvador for his involvement with the violent gang MS-13.


A designated immigration officer with the 287(g) program in the county served Serrano-Trejo a warrant of arrest and an immigration detainer. An immigration judge in Arlington, Va., ultimately ordered Serrano-Trejo deported to El Salvador.


Immigration enforcement agencies have warned about the consequences when elected officials refuse to allow their local police to cooperate with ICE.


“Public safety is best served when law enforcement agencies work together,” ICE said in a statement provided to IRLI. “The Prince William County Jail Board’s decision to discontinue the 287(g) program will certainly have a direct impact on public safety in Prince William County, but Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) remains committed to working with the jail and the sheriff’s office for the safety of Prince William County residents. ICE will continue to issue immigration detainers to allow for those who have violated U.S. immigration laws to safely be transferred to ICE custody.”

For additional information, contact:

Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • blonergan@irli.org

IRLI is a supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Copyright © 2019 Immigration Reform Law Institute. All rights reserved.