The Virginian-Pilot reports today that Virginia Beach, which had instructed its police that, except in limited circumstances, they were not to inquire into the immigration status of persons they arrested, has now changed course. The Pilot article begins as follows:
VIRGINIA BEACH – “City police will begin asking all people from another country about their immigration status if they are arrested, even on misdemeanor charges, and taken before a magistrate.
“The change, announced at a news conference Tuesday by Chief of Police Jake Jacocks Jr., represents an about-face for Beach police and comes after public outrage over a car crash March 30 that killed two Beach teenagers.
“Alfredo Ramos, charged with aggravated involuntary manslaughter in the deaths, admitted he is in the country illegally and that he had been drinking before the crash. Ramos had [four] previous alcohol-related convictions, all misdemeanors. The city’s policy had prohibited police from asking foreigners their immigration status except in felony cases.
“Jacocks said he arrived at the decision to change the two-year-old policy after meeting this week with federal immigration authorities. The policy change ‘is effective right now,’ he said.”
Unfortunately, “right now” comes too late for the teenage girls.
There are two other noteworthy items about the Pilot story. First, it recounts that a person identified as an “Hispanic leader” said that this was not a happy day for Virginia Beach. It is unclear how happy the day was when the girls met their fate, or whether the “leader” has an opinon about that. Second, the story is accompanied by an interactive (and therefore unscientific) poll asking readers whether they approve of the change in policy. Result: 6% disagree with the change, 94% agree.