A reserve Henry County deputy who is the I.T. director for the sheriff's office has been arrested on illegal immigration and firearms charges. Kevin Dwight Venhuis, 46, was taken into custody late Monday by Department of Homeland Security special agents.
A federal probable cause filing indicates immigration authorities were notified of Venhuis' illegal status. "On June 18, 2009, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service denied (a petition) for the spousal relationship which would have allowed (the wife) to confer immigration benefits to Venhuis was terminated." An investigation showed the officer had been married to a U.S. citizen but later divorced. It also appears immigration authorities believe Venhuis was never granted permanent residency or citizenship.
"It's just wrong," said Sheriff Will Maddox, reacting to the officer's arrest. "He's been here 25 years-- working, owning businesses, and paying taxes." The sheriff said Venhuis furnished computers to his office because adequate funds were not available to purchase them.
Maddox said he was aware there was an immigration issue involving Venhuis but claims every attempt has been made to resolve it. "We've been to the immigration office in Atlanta, met with (former Attorney General) Troy King, and Venhuis has even hired an immigration attorney."
"I am going to continue trying to help him get all this mess straightened out," Maddox said. "He's a great guy and this is wrong---just plain wrong,"
Alabama recently adopted tougher immigration laws, most of which have been upheld by Federal courts.
If convicted of the firearms charge, Venhuis could face up to ten years in prison.