Sunday, April 29, 2007

Police don't care about immigration status in Virgina - oh really?

Well Virginia residents - what have ye to say about this crapola?? Time to vote these bastids out of office and get the police officers who don't uphold the law FIRED.

Illegal immigrants say local law enforcement doesn't care if they're here legally or not

How Deblain Gomez Gomez, Juan Gomez Burgos and Vincente Santiago Flores got to Newport News Jail is a different story. But the endings are all the same. Jail officials say once the men are done with the American criminal process, immigration agents are scheduled to take them for possible deportation. Inside this maximum security facility the inmates have NOT been able to hear the outcry over illegal immigrants accused of crimes. Gomez says he has only been arrested once and before it happened, he did not worry about police. Through a translator, he says, "No, no, no because there are millions of immigrants here and we're all illegals."

Gomez is locked up on assault and malicious wounding charges. The two men to his left -- Juan Gomez Burgos and Vincente Santiago Flores -- are both charged with robbery. The men say before they got in trouble, officers did not bother them. But even after breaking the law, Burgos says local police never asked if he was allowed to be in the United States. In Spanish, he says, "In South Carolina they caught me with cocaine and mota." Mota is marijuana, he says. Was he surprised that he was not deported? "Si -- yeah."

Burgos says that was in 2003. Just this past February, Newport News police arrested Flores, he says, for being drunk in public and he too never heard them ask about his immigration status. He said through a translator, "No, nothing they only held me for about 8 or 10 hours then they let me go because I was too drunk, I could not even walk. When they let me go I was fine. Just signed papers that I have to come to court the 13th of March."

After the arrest of this illegal immigrant in March, many in Hampton Roads have come to learn Burgos and Flores' experience is not unusual -- local police often do not ask about immigration status if the person under arrest is facing a misdemeanor or lesser charges. Alfredo Ramos had been arrested for several misdemeanors but only until police accused him of manslaughter for the drunk driving deaths of these girls in Virginia Beach did local officers notify immigration enforcement about Ramos. What do these men think? ΒΆ"Well I don't know that's up to the justice, with him he was drinking and driving. Yes, yes it's a crime he commited with his vehicle," says Flores.

The deaths of 16 year old Tessa Tranchant -- on the left -- and 17 year old Alison Kunhardt brought such intense outrage, Virginia Beach's police chief explained in a news conference April 5th why his officers did not alert immigration when they first came across Ramos on a charge of public intoxication -- a low level crime. Chief Jake Jacocks said Immigration and Customs Enforcement -- known as ICE -- is both understaffed and underfunded-- "... and typically does not respond to calls from local police who have undocumented alients in custody unless the charges are major felonies or otherwise high profile. In fact, ICE has told us there is nothing they can do unless the individual is arrested for a felony and we shouldn't bother calling them otherwise."

ICE agents would not speak on camera. But ICE reps do say Jacocks' statements are not true and agents can detain a person no matter how serious the crime. Furthermore, other Hampton Roads communities -- like Norfolk -- do allow officers to question people about their citizenship during any type of arrest. Norfolk Public Information Officer Chris Amos says,"Whether it's a felony, a rapist or a robber, or a misdemeanor, we'll notify immigration-- " if they suspect the person is illegally in the country. He adds after that, it's up to ICE to enforce immigration laws.

But policies may change. Virginia Beach police are reviewing theirs. Jails are also making assessments. The Newport News Jail which houses these illegal immigrants now keeps track of how many illegal immigrants it has, when jail officers call ICE, and how often ICE says it will pick up an inmate. Lieutenant Colonel Eileen Sprinkle is the Operations Bureau Chief at the Newport News Jail and says, "The situation in Virginia Beach has brought a lot of things to light and that has brought us to now we maybe need to keep track of what we're doing here and maybe pay a little closer attention it just hasn't been an issue to this point."

ummm.. ya think???


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