Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Prince William County, Virginia, is our region's hotbed of immigration policy as enacted at the local level. Immigration was a particularly hot issue in political races there last year and the county has adopted some get-tough policies to address its population of illegal immigrants.
One of these was to join forces with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The zippily-named 287(g) program deputizes local law enforcement to investigate suspects who are, well, suspected of being illegal immigrants. The locals then work to expedite deportations.
This type of thing has been a popular idea in state immigration bills under debate this year. "Since 2005," the Washington Post reports, "the number of state and local agencies participating in 287(g) nationwide has increased from four to 47."
So, everybody's happy, right?
Well, except for Prince William County jailers. It turns out the feds are taking weeks -- not the promised 72 hours -- to pick up illegal immigrants. Jail employees who have received the requisite immigration training are now working 60 hours a week and the county jail is having to pay $220,000 a month to house inmates elsewhere in Virginia.
The two main jail facilities are rated by the state's Board of Corrections as having space for 402 inmates, but in February, the buildings held an average of 664 inmates a day. An additional 275 inmates were sent to facilities elsewhere in Virginia at a daily cost of $38 to $50 per inmate. [...]
Lawyers and inmates' families said the partnership is also allowing illegal immigrant suspects to stay in Prince William while legal residents are shipped elsewhere.
You create these special programs for illegals, they'll just take advantage of you every time.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.