Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has asked the Department of Homeland Security to designate state troopers as federal immigration officers.
McDonnell made the request in a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano under § 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Enforcement of immigration laws generally is a federal responsibility, but federal law allows state and local law enforcement to enter into a memorandum of agreement with the federal agency to assist in that effort.
McDonnell’s letter asks Napolitano to help develop and implement such an agreement on “how participating State Police personnel will be nominated, trained, authorized, and supervised in performing the immigration enforcement functions specified in the agreement.”
“We contemplate addressing those aliens who are engaged in major drug offenses or violent offenses such as murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and kidnapping, as well as DUI offenses,” McDonnell wrote.
The so-called 287(g) agreements have been controversial with some police departments, which contend that they undermine efforts of local to work with immigrant communities because of the fear of victims that they will be deported if they report crimes.
Although the letter does not mention the incident specifically, the DUI reference follows the death of a nun in a crash in Northern Virginia caused by an illegal alien from Honduras who had been released pending deportation proceedings despite two prior DUI convictions.
The alien has been in this country since he was nine years old.
By Alan Cooper