RD45 - Virginia State Crime Commission Final Report of the Illegal Immigration Task Force

Executive Summary:
An apparent lack of action by the federal government to successfully address the issue of illegal immigration has resulted in calls for action at the state and local levels of government. The Commonwealth of Virginia and its localities have not been immune from this trend. Indeed, a considerable amount of legislative measures aimed at addressing various aspects of illegal immigration has been proposed to the General Assembly of Virginia, in increasing amounts, in recent years. These recent efforts aimed at prompting state action related to illegal immigration, combined with uncertainty over what measures are effective or even legally permissible, have compelled a thorough look at the issue in the Commonwealth. The Crime Commission formed its Illegal Immigration Task Force (“Task Force”) to address this necessity.

The mission of the Task Force was framed with the statutory authority of the Crime Commission in mind. Consequently, the mission of the Task Force was appropriately limited in scope to the impact of illegal immigration on Virginia’s criminal justice system.

The members of the Task Force were selected from across Virginia. These highly-qualified individuals are diverse in their experiences and enabled the Task Force to study the issue from a variety of perspectives. The twenty-one voting members consisted of an array of legislative leaders, law enforcement and corrections experts, prosecutors, members of civic and cultural organizations, and faith-based leaders. The Task Force was also aided by two citizen advocates, two independent legal advisers, and a congressional liaison.

The Task Force conducted five meetings between May and October of 2007. General topics covered at these meetings included legal issues affecting state action, illegal immigrants as criminals, illegal immigrants as victims of and witnesses to crime, and enhancement of communication and relations between law enforcement and immigrant communities. Twenty presentations were made before the Task Force. These presentations included those by representatives of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), legal experts, local law enforcement officers, a representative of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a representative of the National Latino Peace Officers Association, representatives of non-profit organizations, and Crime Commission staff.

A total of thirty-two proposals for recommendations were submitted by individual Task Force members for consideration at its final meeting. Sixteen of the proposals were approved as official Task Force recommendations. Three were found to be outside the scope of the Task Force’s mission and were recommended for referral to the Governor’s Commission on Immigration. All of the Task Force’s sixteen recommendations were approved by the Crime Commission. The recommendations reflect the diverse experiences of the Task Force’s members and the vast array of topics covered at the meetings. They range from legislation to community-based measures. Included are recommendations regarding the role of the federal government, data collection, education for immigrant communities, training for law enforcement, cooperation and communication with ICE, and the role of jails and prisons. The recommendations represent the Task Force’s desire to bring forth measures that are not only legally permissible, but also constructive and effective.