An incident last week in which a Fairfax Station man was killed in a car crash involving an illegal immigrant who was charged with drunken driving, has ignited talk of federal immigration laws and programs that seem unable to keep illegal immigrants out of the country.
Carlos Sanchez-Ramos, 33, of Springfield was charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and other counts following a March 14 car accident in which Paul J. Krouse, 54, of Glenbarr Court was killed after his vehicle was forced off the road near Route 1, police said.
Immigration officials confirmed Sanchez-Ramos previously had been deported to his native Honduras in 2004 and returned illegally, according to an article in the Washington Post.
Fairfax County court records show Sanchez-Ramos was arrested for driving under the influence in 2007. At that time, checking the immigration status of offenders was not a policy.
The Fairfax County Adult Detention Center did not begin fingerprinting offenders and checking their status until implementing the Secure Communities program in 2009.
"Now, anyone who is fingerprinted, regardless of race or ethnicity is run through the ICE database," Fairfax County Sheriff's Department spokesman Sonny Cachuella said.
Since partnering with county municipalities two years ago, 64,000 individuals nationwide -- 14,000 of whom were convicted of a Class I offense -- have been deported, according to an Oct. 4 Secure Communities operability report compiled by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.
But that policy has not been able to prevent illegal immigrants from living among the general population, partly because of groups that enable immigrants to falsify documents and obtain work permits.
This week, a Herndon couple was indicted in federal court in Alexandria on charges of heading an immigration fraud ring that helped illegal immigrants obtain false documents and even get security clearance jobs within the Department of State.
Kuang Hao Chou and his wife, Ling Yu Hsieh, are accused of helping illegal immigrants get documents and false certifications that enable those in the country illegally to obtain the work permits. Court documents say they were able to accomplish this with the help of Former Department of Homeland Security Citizenship and Immigration Services supervisor Robert Schofield, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting bribes in exchange for falsifying immigration documents.
But while the Secure Communities program allows Fairfax's detention center to check the status of offenders, it does not allow Fairfax County Sheriff's deputies the authority to enforce immigration law, as they would be able to under the more aggressive 287(g) federal program, which allows local law enforcement to uphold federal immigration laws.
"Secure Communities only works once someone has been caught for some other crime and brought to the county jail," said former Herndon town councilman Charlie Waddell, who voted to allow the Town of Herndon police to enforce immigration laws under the 287(g) program.
According to Cachuella, under Secure Communities it is up to ICE to seek detainers for deportation on any suspect revealed to be an illegal immigrant through the Secure Communities program. In a report issued this month, ICE states that the agency "simply does not have the funding that would be required to detain all aliens charged with, or convicted of DUI offenses."
ICE has sought a detainer for Sanchez-Ramos, officials have confirmed.