“This is a vital step in Fairfax County towards protecting our communities.” — Michelle Larue
“In Judaism, we are commanded to welcome the stranger and treat him or her as our own.” — Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe
The “Sheriff’s Office will no longer hold inmates past their release date unless an ICE administrative request to detain the inmate is accompanied by a criminal detainer issued by a court,” according to Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey A. Kincaid.
Kincaid informed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in late January that the Sheriff’s Office will officially terminate its intergovernmental service agreement (IGSA) with ICE on May 23, 2018, following the required 120-days notice.
"We intend to comply with all federal obligations as they pertain to ICE. … We found it expedient to no longer have an agreement that required us to extend our resources beyond these obligations," according to Kincaid.
ADVOCATES EXPRESSED support for Kincaid’s decision at the next available public comment period before the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 20.
Elizabeth Benson, a member of Fairfax for All Coalition, said: “The cancellation of the agreement was fought for over the course of a year.”
“We appreciate the stance taken by the sheriff to cancel the IGSA and how this is a vital step in Fairfax County towards protecting our communities and recognizing that we are an integral part of this county,” said Michelle Larue.
“I urge every member of the Board of Supervisors to strongly and publicly support Sheriff Kincaid's termination of Fairfax County’s IGSA agreement with ICE,” said Penny Anderson. “She should be applauded not vilified for doing so.”
BUT IMMIGRANTS WHO LIVE in Fairfax County also live in constant fear of law enforcement and immigration agents, said Anderson.
They also fear becoming active members in the political process, educational process and in the community, said Larue.
“If I stand idly by and watch or hear about families being torn apart, people avoiding sending children to school, people afraid of getting health care they need, and the examples are endless, then I am complicit in this travesty,” said Anderson, a member of ACLU’s People Power.
Rabbi Jeffrey Saxe of Temple Rodef Shalom said: “Every faith tradition has its own particular ways of addressing the need to be welcoming to those who come into the community. In Judaism, we are commanded to welcome the stranger and treat him or her as our own,” he said.
He told his family’s history, relating that his grandparents escaped Hitler and Nazi Germany in 1938. They married two days after their arrival in America, with only four people present at the wedding.
“They were able to build good lives for themselves, not just because of their own strength, but because of the support of others in the community, people who didn’t know them but wanted to help,” said Saxe.
“I wonder what would have happened to them if they would have come into this country today,” he said.
WORK NEEDS TO CONTINUE, the advocates said, for the county to adopt policies to “secure equal justice for all residents of Fairfax County regardless of immigration status,” said Benson. “Our coalition has made additional suggestions about how to cement these protections in policies.”
The political environment has changed with the current administration, said Larue, which has allowed ICE “expanded enforcement efforts which only serves to generate fear in our communities and actually undermines public safety in our county.”
“Now it's time for the county to also take concrete steps in protecting our community and not collaborating with ICE,” said Larue.
SEVEN SUPERVISORS raised their hands when Benson asked if they supported the termination agreement, with the exception of Braddock Supervisor John Cook and Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity. (Providence Supervisor Linda Smyth was not present during the informal tally.)
“It was the sheriff’s decision, not the Board of Supervisors’. I think she did the right thing,” said Bulova. “Fairfax County is a very diverse community, and we value our immigrant community in Fairfax County and we also keep our community safe through community policing.”
According to Kincaid’s statement, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to cooperate with ICE, as it does with other local, state and federal authorities.
Bulova said the sheriff’s action would not put the community at risk. She also urged people to stay involved in reporting crimes and when they are victims of crime.
“While I may disagree with you on your first two points, I very emphatically agree with you on the last one,” said Herrity, following Bulova’s remarks. “Our police don’t do immigration enforcement, they never have.”
His remark drew scoffs.
“I would encourage you to change that opinion,” Herrity said.