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    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Vast majority of illegal immigrants arrested in Prince Willi

    Vast majority of illegal immigrants arrested in Prince William charged with one of three crimes
    By: David Sherfinski
    Examiner Staff Writer
    August 17, 2009
    The vast majority of of illegal immigrants arrested in Prince William County last year were charged with public drunkenness, driving under the influence or driving without a license, according to recent data.

    Among 20 common crimes, such as vandalism and drug possession, arrests for the three crimes accounted for 76 percent of arrests of illegal immigrants (440 out of 576). Among all the persons arrested for those 20 crimes, the three charges constituted 48 percent of the arrests (5,064 out of 10,465), according to a report from the University of Virginia. The data sample was taken from March 2008 to December 2008.

    "We find, not surprisingly, there are a substantial number of illegal immigrants arrested" for those types of crimes, said Thomas Guterbock, director of UVA's Center for Survey Research, which recently released the interim report on the county police's illegal-immigration policy.

    But he also cautioned not to surmise too much from the numbers.

    "Whether or not they're overrepresented, we don't know," he said.

    One difficulty with analyzing such statistics is that the illegal immigrant population is necessarily based on estimates. The report, citing a 2007 study, estimated that about 7 or 8 percent of Prince William's general population was made up of illegal immigrants.

    "On [sic] other hand, it is also quite likely that illegal immigrants have recently declined as a share of PWC's immigrant population," the report said. "A related point is that we do not have data from other jurisdictions against which to compare the PWC arrest statistics. Consequently, we cannot say whether illegal immigrants account for more arrestees in PWC than in other comparable jurisdictions."

    The Prince William County Police Department has held numerous community meetings to stress that the enforcement policy focuses on illegal immigrants who commit crimes, that crime victims and witnesses will be protected regardless of their immigration status, and that the department does not engage in racial profiling.

    "There is little doubt in my mind that the public education effort has had a positive impact," Police Chief Charlie Deane said recently. "We said from the beginning that we were going to carry [the policy] out in a fair, lawful and reasonable manner."

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