Prince William County may sue Homeland Security over illegal immigrants

By Jennifer Buske
Sunday, February 20, 2011; T02

Prince William County supervisors want to pursue litigation against the Department of Homeland Security and are asking Congress to investigate how the agency has handled the illegal immigrants turned over by county law enforcement officials.

After a closed meeting Tuesday, the Board of County Supervisors unanimously endorsed a resolution that asks county staff members to seek "all available redress" against DHS because the agency did not respond to a Freedom of Information Act request the county filed last year to find out why Carlos A. Martinelly-Montano, an illegal immigrant who allegedly killed one person and injured two others in a drunken driving accident, was still in the community although he had two previous drunken driving convictions.

"The Department of Homeland Security has an obligation to the citizens of Prince William County to explain what they are doing to uphold their obligation to help make our communities safe," board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said. "Clearly, they made major mistakes in the Montano case and don't want to be held accountable to the public for those, but we need to know how deep these problems run."

Supervisors also want Congress to investigate how U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has handled the 3,000 or so illegal immigrants the county has turned over to ICE and where they are now. County officials filed a FOIA request for that information last year.

Supervisor W.S. Covington III (R-Brentsville), who brought up the motion to take legal action, said it is a matter of public safety to know what has happened to the illegal immigrants turned over to ICE. "It's important for our law enforcement officials to know what they are dealing with in the county," Covington said.

Supervisors said Prince William police have done their job, checking the immigration status of anyone arrested in the county. They questioned whether ICE is doing its job, especially in light of the Feb. 10 shootings in Manassas, in which an illegal immigrant allegedly killed three people and injured three others.

"Congress needs to provide ICE and DHS with the resources they need to protect our citizens from criminal illegal aliens," Stewart said after the Manassas shootings. "Our community has already lost too many people to these felons that have no right to be here in the first place."

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