WASHINGTON—A police officer in Fairfax County, Virginia, is facing disciplinary action for contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the scene of a traffic accident involving an illegal immigrant wanted for deportation.
Fairfax County police Chief Edwin Roessler said the officer has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of an investigation.
“As a matter of full transparency to our community—our police officer violated our longstanding policy and deprived a person of their freedom, which is unacceptable,” Roessler said in an Oct. 1 statement.
The incident occurred on Sept. 21, when the responding officer to the accident site called the ICE contact listed on the warrant alert after the driver’s name came up flagged.
“The ICE agent advised the officer that they were close by and responding to the location of the traffic crash,” Roessler said.
ICE took custody of the driver, who was released three hours later with an ankle monitor, he said.
The arrest procedure at issue is a 2007 police department ruling that forbids police from taking into custody anyone whom the system flags as having an “outstanding administrative warrant of removal,” unless that person isn’t being taken into custody for another violation of the law. “The majority of such administrative warrants represent civil violations of immigration law,” the rule reads.
In April 2018, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed a bill that would have prohibited the establishment of sanctuary cities in the state; contrary to his pre-election promise.
A recent ICE operation netted 57 illegal immigrants in Virginia and Washington, D.C. The agency said the arrestees came from Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Argentina, Bolivia, and Kazakhstan. Of the 57 aliens, 41 had criminal histories including sexual assault, aggravated assault, possession of cocaine, larceny, forgery, driving under the influence, illegal entry, and illegal re-entry.
Other jurisdictions, including California, have adopted sanctuary policies that could result in the firing of local or state law enforcement officers if they cooperate with ICE.
The Chicago Police Department has recently issued a memo blocking its officers from assisting ICE agents in immigration arrests, according to Fox News.
At a rally on Sept. 26, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot denounced ICE.
“We will never, ever succumb to the racist, xenophobic rhetoric of ICE,” Lightfoot said, according to WGNTV. “We will continue to ban ICE from having access to any CPD databases. We’ll not allow any CPD officer to cooperate with anything related to ICE and its immigration raids.”
“Of course we know that we’ve hurt [ICE agents] and hurt their ability to do their job here in the city, but so be it,” Lightfoot told protesters. “That’s the point.”
ICE agents arrested 28 illegal immigrants in Illinois during a recent operation targeting sanctuary jurisdictions.
“This enforcement surge targeted criminal aliens, public-safety threats, and individuals who have violated our nation’s immigration laws—particularly in non-cooperative jurisdictions,” said Robert Guadian, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations in Chicago.
“Our ICE officers provide a valuable public service by removing criminal aliens who pose a threat to their own immigrant communities. Our officers also enforce U.S. immigration laws by carrying out the orders of federal immigration judges.”