After months of discussions, Governor Bob McDonnell has formally requested that the Department of Homeland Security enter into a 287(g) agreement with the Virginia Department of State Police allowing certain Virginia troopers to perform certain functions of a federal immigration officer within the borders of the Commonwealth. The letter follows the governor's remarks last week that his Administration has been in communication with federal authorities since February on the issue.
Speaking about the formal request, the governor noted, "I have been a longtime proponent of allowing certain state and local law enforcement officers to assist the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the enforcement of immigration laws within the Commonwealth. A partnership of this nature will serve to improve public safety, while providing more resources to an underfunded and understaffed federal agency in the fight against criminal illegal immigration. This effort has been underway in our Administration since our first months in office. The Superintendent of the Virginia Department of State Police, Secretary of Public Safety, and my Chief of Staff have all met with federal officials to express our interest in this law enforcement partnership. The federal government is clearly responsible for border security and immigration law enforcement in this country. However, Section 287(g) of the amended Immigration and Nationality Act wisely permits state and local assistance in that enforcement. Virginians want to see our laws enforced and our communities kept safe and secure. This collaborative partnership will help accomplish those critical functions of government. I look forward to a positive response from Secretary Napolitano to our request and a successful federal-state partnership in the years ahead."
In the letter, Governor McDonnell writes:
"As Virginia's Attorney General, I advocated for 287(g) authority for the Virginia Department of State Police. We were successful in assisting a number of local governments in executing 287(g) agreements, which are now working well. Since I became Governor, my Superintendent of the Virginia Department of State Police began making inquiries in February of 2010 regarding potential 287(g) authority for limited purposes for certain State Police Officers. Additionally, my Chief of Staff and Secretary of Public Safety have discussed this initiative, along with ideas on other immigration enforcement issues, with Assistant Secretary John Morton, his Chief of Staff, Suzanne Barr, and other federal partners. The ongoing discussions and a productive meeting have resulted in a verbal commitment to move forward in a strategic manner relating to 287(g) authority."
The letter to Secretary Napolitano concludes:
"It is my belief that providing the Virginia Department of State Police the authority granted under 287(g) will serve as a benefit to your Department as well as the citizens of the United States and the Commonwealth. I look forward to working with you in ensuring the successful implementation of this vital law enforcement initiative."
For coverage of the governor's comments last week regarding a 287(g) agreement please see:
For coverage of the governor's support as attorney general for a 287(g) agreement please see: