In a seldom-seen act, a suburban Virginia county is going up against the powerful forces of the federal government by suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for records involving thousands of illegal immigrants who were arrested locally and turned over for deportation.
Officials in Prince William County suspect that many of the criminal aliens, like the drunk driver who killed a nun last summer in their jurisdiction, were simply released under Obama’s backdoor amnesty plan. If so, there could be at least 3,000 criminal illegal immigrants roaming around the county, which is part of the Washington Metropolitan area and has a population of around 400,000.
Local officials demand to know what the feds did with the illegal immigrants after county authorities turned them over for removal. The feds refuse to divulge the information and have blown off two public-record requests from the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. Board Chairman Corey Stewart said it’s frustrating that a local government must resort to suing the federal government to get information that should be public and is vital to local law enforcement efforts. He also expressed disappointment in the “lack of cooperation and transparency from DHS.”
The standoff began when Prince William officials discovered that a drunken illegal immigrant with an extensive criminal history killed a Benedictine nun last summer. News reports quickly surfaced that the Bolivian man, Carlos Montano, had been released by federal immigration authorities on his own recognizance after previous arrests. Montano, who had a revoked license, had twice been charged with drunken driving and had been arrested in separate incidents for other traffic-related offenses.
A few months after the nun’s tragic death Judicial Watch sued DHS for documents related to Montano’s case in an effort to answer an important question: Why did federal authorities free him if he had such a serious criminal history? Earlier this year the agency provided a heavily edited report that nevertheless provides insight into the matter. Essentially, Obama Administration policies giving immigration officials “broad discretion” relating to detention resources allow them to release illegal aliens like Montano.
In any case, Prince William County has transferred more than 4,000 criminal illegal aliens to DHS custody in the last few years and officials want to know their whereabouts. The program is actually part of a local-federal team effort, practiced by municipalities nationwide, that checks the immigration status of every arrestee. It probably defeats the purpose if the feds are releasing the offenders.