The Prince William-Manassas jail has transferred far fewer inmates to U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement custody in the last two months than in the past because the county no longer holds a 287(g) agreement with ICE and has new policies for how the jail interacts with federal immigration officials.
Jail Superintendent Pete Meletis said Wednesday that only 16 inmates, all charged with at least a felony, have been transferred from the jail to ICE custody since mid-September – far lower than at any point in the last decade.
Between 2011 and 2019, the jail transferred an average of 60 inmates to ICE every month, according to county records obtained by Freedom of Information Act request last year. A total of 6,503 inmates were transferred to ICE custody from the jail between 2011 and 2019.
The Prince William-Manassas jail board unanimously ended the county’s decade-long 287(g) agreement with ICE in July. The agreement allowed ICE to deputize several of the jail officers as ICE agents, giving them access to ICE databases to check the status of undocumented inmates and allowed the jail to hold inmates with ICE detainers for up to two days past their release dates so ICE personnel could pick them up and transfer them to an ICE holding facility.
After the agreement ended, the jail board unanimously adopted a new policy directing the jail to only notify ICE about the release of people detained for felonies – not misdemeanors -- if immigration officials had lodged detainers against them. Also, the jail holds those charged with felonies for a maximum of two hours past their release times for ICE to retrieve them.
In the fiscal year 2020, prior to the end of the 287(g) agreement, 74% of ICE detainers were placed on local inmates charged with misdemeanors. A total of 578 ICE detainers were lodged against inmates in the jail between January and July of this year.
Meletis said ICE officers had arrived to pick up all 16 people charged with felonies with detainers within the two-hour window set forth by the new policy since it was adopted in September and had not missed any pickups.
“They’ve picked them all up in the window that we were directed to follow,” Meletis said.
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