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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/23/2011

No.Va. immigration roundup nets 130 criminals


ICE Director John Morton speaks at a press conference about the arrests. (Tom Jackman - The Washington Post)
A three-day sweep by federal and local law enforcement agencies in Northern Virginia resulted in 130 immigrants with prior convictions being taken into federal custody, officials said Wednesday at a news conference in Manassas.

While performing the “enforcement surge,” as Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton called it, police and federal agents also picked up eight fugitives and 25 other people who already faced immigration violations. Of the 163 total arrests, 60 were made in Fairfax County, 37 in Prince William County , 20 in Loudoun County, 13 in Alexandria city and 11 in Arlington County.

Some of those picked up had been convicted of crimes such as rape, assault, burglary and drug possession, Morton said. But they had served their time and been released before immigration officials launched programs such as Secure Communities, which enables local jails to submit fingerprints of everyone arrested to a nationwide immigration database, or the 287(g) program, which gave federal immigration authority to local departments.

Some of those arrested were in the country legally, some were not, Morton said. He did not have an exact breakdown. But even those with legal status can forfeit that status if they commit crimes of “moral turpitude” or receive sentences of a year or more.

“If you’re committing crimes here in our country,” Morton said, “and you’re here unlawfully, it’s time for you to go home.”

Morton said the operation was part of a continuing effort to cross-check with local agencies such as probation and parole departments, and using ICE’s own resources, to find people who have committed deportable offenses but have eluded detection.

One of the people picked up this week was a 21-year-old Mexican man in Harrisonburg who was a legal permanent resident, but who had a prior sexual assault conviction for which he received a five-year sentence. In Arlington, a 39-year-old legal resident from Ecuador had prior convictions of assault and battery, grand larceny and statutory rape. A 39-year-old British man in Madison, Va., also here legally, was picked up Monday after ICE found he had a conviction for aggravated sexual battery of a child.

An array of local officials stood behind Morton, including Prince William Police Chief Charlie Deane and Loudoun Sheriff Steve Simpson. Both said their cooperation with federal immigration efforts had received large support in their communities.

By  |  12:30 PM ET, 03/23/2011

 
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