A Virginia panel yesterday rejected a controversial proposal to create the first state-run facility in the U.S. where illegal immigrants arrested for certain crimes could be held until federal officials deport them or while awaiting trial, the New York Times reports. The panel recommended that the state provide more money so local officials could build more jail space to house immigrants awaiting deportation. It called on local jail officials to check the immigration status of all inmates and deny bail to most illegal immigrants who committed crimes.
Virginia has become a testing ground for some of the nation’s strictest policies to curb illegal immigration. This morning, reports the Washington Post, Prince William County, Va., supervisors voted to move forward with a nationally watched plan to crack down on illegal immigrants by increasing local police enforcement and restricting certain public services. “Residents of our state are really frustrated when an illegal alien commits a crime and that person is let go after serving time, and we're trying to correct that problem,” said State Senator Ken Stolle, chairman of the Illegal Immigration Task Force of the State Crime Commission. “These measures are not targeting all immigrants, just those who commit crimes.” In Virginia, local jail officials keep only about 25 percent of the money that federal immigration officials pay per bed for illegal immigrants waiting to be deported, with the rest going to the state. The panel called for that amount to be increased to 100 percent and to increase the amount the state provided to counties to build new facilities.