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Many local governments, including those who are otherwise pro-immigrant, go above and beyond to make it easier for ICE to detain and deport immigrants. When local law enforcement engages in federal immigration enforcement, trust between the local community and the police is damaged. When immigrants think the police are ICE and “out to get them,” they stop reporting criminal activity out of fear of repercussions. And when the local police are spending their time enforcing Federal civil immigration laws, they have fewer resources at hand to do their actual jobs. This makes everyone less safe and contributes to the dehumanization of our immigrant brothers and sisters. We are committed to supporting communities throughout Virginia to push their local officials to stop doing ICE’s dirty work for them.
Together with other organizations and activists, we successfully persuaded the Fairfax County sheriff to cancel Fairfax’s Inter-Governmental Service Agreement with ICE that would have pushed more people into removal proceedings, and we helped persuade the Alexandria Juvenile Detention Center not to renew its contract with the federal government to detain immigrant kids.”
We organized a campaign that resulted in the Fauquier County Sheriff deciding not to enter a 287(g) agreement with ICE, a program that allows local officials to be deputized as ICE agents. And while we failed to convince the Culpeper County Sheriff not to enter the 287(g) program, we mobilized great community support and made it clear to sheriffs across Virginia that they won’t be able to institute these types of policies without a major fight.
We have supported and continue to support residents in advocating and organizing in key Virginia locations including Arlington, Alexandria, Charlottesville/Albemarle, Henrico, Harrisonburg, Prince William, and Norfolk to end the practice of jail personnel actively coordinating and sharing information with ICE to help ICE arrest immigrants. In Norfolk, we helped with a successful campaign that led to the cancellation of Norfolk City Jail’s partnership with ICE, which effectively denied ICE significant detention capacity. Read our report, ICE on the Harbor, which was key to that effort.
During the 2020 General Assembly Session we led efforts to introduce and see passed legislation that ended the mandate that local and state law-enforcement report immigration status to ICE for individuals charged with misdemeanors. In June of 2020, the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail was the first to use their newly granted discretion to end this practice.
Also in June, the Jail Board of Prince William County allowed their 287(g) contract to expire. This followed months of advocacy and public engagement by immigrants and their allies, including LAJC and the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. The agreement had been in place for over thirteen years, having been one of the first 287(g) agreements in the country. From the moment the agreement was proposed, the Legal Aid Justice Center worked alongside the immigrant community of Prince William County to mobilize in massive opposition. The story of this initial popular resistance is detailed in the documentary 9500 Liberty. This was a huge win for the community.
Your support helps us to keep ICE out of our communities and protect immigrant families.