Arlington community members scored a big win this past summer, when the county adopted a “trust” policy affirming that any resident, regardless of legal status, can access public services without fear.
Still, advocates said following that win that more could be done to protect undocumented residents, like cutting off local law enforcement collaboration with federal immigration officials. This week, they celebrated that very win.
RELATED STORY: While advocates applaud Arlington's new policy, they say more can be done to limit ICE's grip
Outgoing Sheriff Beth Arthur announced this week that the office will end all voluntary cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Arthur said that the office “will continue to honor judicially signed warrants” that request deputies continue to hold detained immigrants so that ICE can pick them up.
But under the changes, the office “will no longer recognize any ‘voluntary action’ requests from ICE,” nor enter that information into the office’s records management system. The office will also end the system informing ICE of when an immigrant was going to be released. The Washington Post reports that the office is still required by law to continue certain actions: “[W]hen someone is booked into jail on a felony charge, their personal information is required to be entered into a database that can be accessed by ICE.”
“I pride myself on making informed decisions that benefit the communities I represent, which has led me to making the changes,” Arthur said in the Dec. 21 letter to local immigrant rights organizations. The Washington Post said that Arthur’s temporary successor, deputy sheriff Jose Quiroz, plans to honor the changes, and is running to permanently replace her.
“While there is more work to do to achieve all possible protections for people at risk of criminalization at the county level, this is a major win for Arlington County migrant communities,” tweeted the La ColectiVA organization.
The changes may close some loopholes that had worried advocates following last summer’s win at the county board level. “Under the new policy, Arlington County Police officers are now required to get permission from their superiors before they can contact ICE,” The Washington Post reported at that time. But because the sheriff’s department isn’t under the local board’s jurisdiction, none of the improvements applied to sheriff’s deputies.
“We hope that this ongoing community effort will be a model for an ‘Arlington way’ where the people, particularly those who are most harmed by state violence in its different forms, are part of decision-making and leading changes toward truly just, safe and strong communities,” La ColectiVA continued.
As previously noted, despite lies from anti-immigrant officials, locally passed policies limiting cooperation with federal immigration officials actually benefit communities at large. When people aren’t afraid of reporting crime, or when they’ve been the victims of crime, it benefits all residents. Safer cities’ policies actually follow the law by refusing to hold immigrants for ICE unless a judge has reviewed a case and authorized it.
Virginia county to end agreement with ICE following years of pressure from advocates