Immigrants in Jails

By: Kelly Creswell
By: Kelly Creswell

Jails have some responsibility in taking care of the illegal immigrants, but that is also their biggest problem.

The Rockingham County Sheriff's Office says finding out the true identity of an illegal alien can take days. And once they're identified, it could be weeks before the court decide what to do with the immigrants.

Sergeant Felicia Glick says the only time they come across illegal immigrants is if they commit a crime.

"If they are suspected of being an illegal, then a detainer is placed on them; once the court determines what action they are going to take, then immigration has 48 hours to further the process of detaining them or keeping them incarcerated or not," says Sergeant Felicia Glick.

And sometimes, immigration and customs enforcement, also known as ICE, can't do much.

"Often times ICE will just voluntarily ask the person, the individuals, to leave the country as opposed to paying for their return to their home country," says Glick.

Out of the 282 inmates at the Rockingham County Jail, only nine illegal immigrants are serving their sentences. Ten to fifteen more are waiting for their court dates. Even though the jails aren't crowded with illegal immigrants, the numbers are growing. The Commonwealth Attorney says local governments need to be more proactive.

"But we as a local government can be very proactive in working with ICE to get the appropriate information to realize that those that are criminal aliens that need to be held are held accountable," says Commonwealth Attorney Marsha Garst.

The Rockingham County Jail is certified by the US Marshall to hold illegal immigrants, but the Middle River Jail in Augusta County isn't. With an ICE office in Harrisonburg, communication with jails in the Valley makes it easier to work with immigration services.


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