Commonwealth's Attorney candidates Amy Ashworth and Mike May

Amy Ashworth, a Democrat, and Mike May, a Republican, are vying to be the next Prince William County commonwealth's attorney.

Amy Ashworth, the Democratic candidate for Prince William County commonwealth’s attorney, said Wednesday she believes the county’s agreement with U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement to identify undocumented immigrants booked at the local jail does not ensure residents’ safety.

The program, known as a 287(g) agreement, allows the jail to deputize its officers as ICE agents, access federal databases and hold inmates for 48 hours past their release date if ICE has issued a detainer for their custody. The jail will hold inmates an additional 48 hours to allow ICE to pick them up for further detention if the federal agency deems it necessary.

Ashworth, a former Prince William County prosecutor, worked in the commonwealth’s attorney’s special victims’ unit when the county’s ICE agreement went into effect in 2008.

During a Sept. 11 candidates’ forum in Manassas, Ashworth, who faces Republican Mike May in the Nov. 5 election, said the ICE agreement has had a negative impact on the community.

“We created an entire class of people, namely immigrants -- some legal, some not legal -- that were afraid to come forward and report crimes, and I knew this because they found their way into my office in the special victims’ unit through a family friend, through a lawyer, saying, ‘My child’s been sexually abused but I’m afraid if we report this to the police, they’re going to deport me,’” Ashworth said at the forum, which was hosted by the Prince William County Committee of 100.

Prince William and Culpeper counties are the only localities in Virginia that hold 287(g) agreements with ICE. The program has cost the county about $300,000 per year to maintain since 2012, according to previous reporting by Prince William Times.

“This is a program that has cost the taxpayers over $2.5 million and it does nothing to ensure your safety,” Ashworth said.

May, a trial lawyer, said he supports the county’s ICE agreement. May served on the Board of County Supervisors as Occoquan supervisor from 2007 to 2016 when the ICE agreement went into effect.

“Ultimately this is about making sure folks that commit crimes in the community are not returned back into the community when they can be sent to another place. I think it makes sense,” May said.

May said the agreement was only being talked about now “because folks want to nationalize local elections.”

“I do think there is more that the commonwealth’s attorney can do however in terms of outreach to communities, particularly immigrant communities to make sure they have no fear to talk and cooperate with the police department,” May said.

The ICE agreement was renewed for another year effective July 1, 2019, with approval from the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail Board. The board will have vote to decide whether to renew the agreement again next summer.

The county’s commonwealth’s attorney election is Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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(8) comments

Neale

If immigrant victims and witnesses are afraid to come forward unless we are a "sanctuary county," it is only because of fear-mongering by those who know better. Does Ms. Ashworth not realize that the ICE detainers apply only to inmates? Inmates are not victims; they are not witnesses. They are criminals, and when a criminal is in the country illegally, they should be deported A Commonwealth Attorney should make it her duty to make sure that immigrants understand that these ICE detainers do not affect those who are victims or witnesses instead of using their fear as an excuse to ignore the law. How does allowing criminal illegal immigrants evade ICE improve the lives of the County residents, whether they be American-born or immigrants? These immigrant inmates often prey on other immigrants before and after their incarceration. If Ms. Ashworth believes she's helping immigrants, she's dead wrong.

ccw

Great comments Neale. But as far as Ms. Ashworth believing that she's helping immigrants goes when is the last time that you can remember any Democrat helping anyone without helping their self first?



My recollection goes all the way back to 1950 right before Christmas when President Harry S. Truman wrote a letter to a Washington Post music critic telling him to stop bad mouthing his daughter Margaret's singing or he will end up needing a new nose and maybe even a supporter below! In his mind Truman was both defending his daughter's honor and also helping her career.



Can you imagine what it would be like if Harry S. Truman was invited to participate in this debate?

ccw

The house adjacent to ours currently lists 21 residents living in it. It is a single family residence. The owners are green card holders from Mexico.



The house across the street from ours currently lists 29 people living in it. It is a single family home owned by a 33 year long green card immigrant from ElSalvador.

A few years ago Prince William County Police dispatched two cruisers to this house with 4 police officers that removed two teenage (middle school) girls from the house. Two additional cruisers were dispatched as backups. One officer watched while standing in our front yard.



I asked that officer how that these two houses were able to legally continue having so many people living in their houses. The officer responded that they can't. What happens is these owners typically build sleeping racks bolted to the walls of every room in the house, charge each (temporary) resident anywhere from $500.00 to $1,000.00 per month cash up front, then make it clear to them that if they complain or do anything that raises the wrong people's eyebrows they will immediately be turned into immigration authorities.



When asked why that the police didn't just bring charges against these owners the officer replied that they do but added that the only thing that happens from there is that the courts throw the charges out. Or on any appeals to the Commonwealth legislatures in Richmond it gets thrown out from there too citing they are simply following the orders given to them from downtown Washington, DC.



Without any doubt whatsoever officials of Prince William County Virginia have created an entire class of people complete with all of the human suffering complexities and unambiguous deliminas imaginable.



What wasn't mentioned in their debate or this article is that the very same officials that created the mess from stem to stern are now asking for the voters to trust them to solve it. Not only that they do not hesitate to use the mainstream media in instant flurries of bashing their opponents as racists, bigots and streams of other similar adjectives that would make the most seasoned, salty sailors alive blush.



In summary to these debaters. You people sold our county out. Live with it.


Kevin Raymond

You do know Louf that no one is taking away your 2nd amendment rights...…….Most sane people do want to ban assault weapons that can kill 20 people in 10 seconds....NRA cries about the "slippery slope" as if people don't know that the slippery slope has been done with all the murders with assault weapons.

Louf

Funny, the democrats always argue that it does not ensure the safety of the community. Yet these same clowns are the one that wants to limit 2nd amendment rights when they know that is not in the best interest of the community. Nothing but liars and hypocrites!

Omarndc72

I agree louf. Here js an idea, Amy Ashworth, why dont you take! The illegals and house them and care for them in your home instead of forcing the rest of society to deal with it. Your one ignorant woman, look how Woodbridge and Montgomery county md. Full of illegals commiting crimes. Amy Ashworth, why dont you move to Montgomery county md and take the illegals with you

zcxnissan

They would rape her in a heartbeat in Montgomery County and the County Supervisors there would wholeheartedly condone it. 8 rapes by illegal aliens in one month. No wonder they make up 25% of all Federal jail prisoners. Way disproportionate numbers to the myth of illegal aliens committing fewer crimes than native citizens.

JosephGeorge4Neabsco

I’ve got family in MoCo and your view of that county is so far off. I’d be interested in seeing your source of information quoting that undocumented immigrants are 25% of Federal jail prisoners. Or are you just fear mongering without any data to back your claims?

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