Herndon, VA first U.S. town to seek ICE training for local police
The Town Council of Herndon, Virginia voted 6-1 last night to seek federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency training for certain town police officers to enable them to perform "certain functions of an immigration officer." Herndon is the first town in the U.S. to officially approve a request for the ICE training, and it is also the smallest of the 6-8 jurisdictions in the nation that have sought such capabilities for local law enforcement personnel.
The ICE training program is a provision of a 1996 amendment which added section 287(g) to the Immigration and Nationality Act. 287(g) authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to enter into a written Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with state and local government agencies to authorize qualified personnel to question and detain individuals for potential removal from the United States if the individuals are identified as illegal aliens.
The 287(g) program is extremely significant because it allows the local police to help enforce U.S. immigration laws. Dozens of jurisdictions throughout the U.S. are considering or hacve already implemented this program or others related to immigration enforcement at the local level. Currently, many U.S. jurisdictions do not check the legal residency status of persons detained for criminal violations. This has resulted in situations where illegal aliens detained for crimes have been freed or released on bail even though they were in in this country illegally at the time.
This action by the Herndon Town Council amounts to another huge victory for the local citizens' group Help Save Herndon, which provided a detailed report on the 287(g) program to the Council and Herndon Town staff. Help Save Herndon gained international recognition in May, 2006, when its grassroots political efforts succeeded in turning out almost the entire town government over a day labor center which had been created against the wishes of a majority of the town's legal residents. Help Save Herndon's successes can be viewed as the first shots of the current political revolution in America.
The entire slate of candidates endorsed by Help Save Herndon in May - Dave Kirby, Connie Hutchinson, Dennis Husch, Bill Tirrell, Jr, Charles Waddell, and Mayor Steve DeBenedittis - voted for the resolution to participate in the 287(g) program. Harlan Reece, the only re-elected member of the former council who had voted to approve the Herndon day labor site, was the sole vote against immigration enforcement training for local police.
Thirty-one audience members spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, and two-thirds spoke in favor of the 287(g) program.
One of the dissenters was Ana Rochac, wife of Herndon defeated Town Council candidate Jorge Rochac.
Mrs. Rochac provided one of the more revealing moments during the public testimony.
A previous speaker had referred to his perception that illegal aliens were not becoming "acculturated" in Herndon. He indicated there were cases where Hispanics who he assumed were illegal had a proclivity for loitering and littering, and he noted that from his experiences visiting Central America these seemed to be characteristic of the local culture there. He told the Council that Herndon residents need to do a better job explaining to immigrants that American culture is different.
Mrs. Rochac argued that U.S. foreign policy had contributed to the motivation for Latin Americans to migrate to the U.S. "None of your ancestors, or my ancestors, were in the United States 400 years ago...When the war was fought in my country - in my other country - of El Salvador, the United States helped alot to our army."
Whether intended or not, Mrs. Rochac certainly confirmed the notion that prominent Hispanic advocates do not believe legal citizens of America have any greater claim to legitimate residency here than those who have come here illegally, and she also let slip that she has (at best) a dual allegiance.
Her husband is just a fun guy. No complaints on that front.
Although he's somwhat wedded to the notion that anyone who has a problem with illegal immigration is a bigot. Apart from that, he and I are on the same page.
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