A bar fight outside of a Sterling restaurant resulted in the apprehension of six people who are living in the United States illegally, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
On Thursday, Oct. 19, Inocente Dionicio-Gama was arrested at home for the Oct. 12 assault of a man outside of a Sterling restaurant. During the arrest, officers discovered he was living with six other people, all of whom were in the country illegally.
According to Sheriff’s Office, Dionicio-Gama and another man allegedly assaulted a 24-year-old man with a tire iron outside of Zazaa Restaurant.
According to the crime report, the victim and two suspects were asked to leave the restaurant after they got into an argument inside the bar area. The victim allegedly struck one of the suspects in the parking lot, and then was assaulted with a tire iron, according to Troxell.
"He had lacerations on his face," Troxell said.
The suspects fled the scene in an older Dodge Neon, possibly blue in color. Witnesses say the vehicle might have struck the victim as it left the scene.
WHEN SHERIFF'S deputies arrived at Dionicio-Gama's place of work, he and another man, Gilberto Henriquez Hernandez, 23, fled from them. Hernandez left his child in a car.
Sheriff’s deputies, along with special agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), later arrested Dionicio-Gama at a home on Lyndhurst Court in Sterling and discovered six people living there. The deputies and immigration officers returned the following day with a search warrant, which led to the arrest of the six people on federal charges stemming from their immigration status. They included Rosa Dionicio-Augustino, 19, Hernandez, both of Sterling, three other males, one of whom is a teenager, and another female.
Sheriff's officers also charged Dionicio-Augustino with obstruction of justice for providing false information to the officers regarding Dionicio-Gama's whereabouts and Hernandez with child endangerment.
All seven suspects, including Dionicio-Gama, are being held without bond at the Loudoun Adult Detention Center and are awaiting deportation hearings.
AT A RECENT Board of Supervisors meeting, Joseph Budzinski, a member of HelpSaveLoudoun, requested the Sheriff’s Office enroll its deputies in immigration enforcement training. The program allows officers to question or detain people they believe to be in the country illegally until federal immigration agents can take over the case.
"Our members believe immigration is not just a federal government issue," he said. "Much can be done at the local and state levels to ensure public safety and quality of life for the legal residents of Loudoun County."
Sheriff Stephen O. Simpson requested more time to determine whether or not immigration training is a good option for Sheriff’s Office deputies. Simpson said he is hesitant to implement the training program on a local level for several reasons.
First, the Sheriff's Office has a good working relationship with ICE officials. Typically, an immigration agent will pick up an illegal immigrant within 24 to 48 hours from a Loudoun County jail, he said.
Simpson said other jurisdictions have complained about the amount of time it takes ICE agents to pick up detainees.
"We’ve had a good response [from ICE agents]," he said, "because we are so close to D.C."
Simpson is afraid of the negative backlash immigration enforcement training might have create in the immigrant community.
LAURA VALLE, president of La Voz, a community-based Hispanic and Latino outreach organization, is concerned about the effects of ICE training on immigrants in general.
"It might create an atmosphere of fear," she said.
The Sheriff's Office and the Leesburg Police Department work hard to reach out to the local Hispanic population, she said.
"All of that hard work would be lost if the police department takes an extreme approach."
Valle said ICE training would not only affect undocumented immigrants, but those living in the United States legally.
"There are so many degrees of documentation," she said.
Some immigrants are afraid of being discriminated against, Valle said. She fears they will be less likely to trust Sheriff's officers.
FRIDAY'S ARRESTS made Budzinski feel good about the program, but he said the Sheriff's Office can do more.
Budzinski is passionate about the immigration training program.
"This issue is going to have a huge amount of significance in our area over the next couple of years," he said. "It is not a victimless crime."
Budzinski's major concerns are the zoning violations and unfair business practices, which he attributes to the illegal immigrant population.
Valle said the ICE proposal is only a temporary fix to a very large problem.
"People get deported and they come right back," she said. "We need to spend money on a realistic solution to a very broken immigration system."