Officers are no longer able to ask about or disclose a person’s immigration status or give information to ICE that can be used to locate someone for deportation other than for a criminal justice purpose.
Officers are also barred from considering a person’s immigration status when deciding whether to take them into custody on a misdemeanor charge, such as trespassing. An analysis by ACLU People Power Fairfax, which advocates for immigrants, found that more than 70 percent of people ICE was allowed to pick up from the county jail during a recent 16-month period were being held on minor charges.
Individuals stopped by police will also be able to provide identification other than a Virginia driver’s license when asked. That includes passports and other forms of official identification.
Diane Burkley Alejandro, lead advocate for ACLU People Power Fairfax, said immigrant advocates had received reports of Fairfax County police officers asking immigrants about where they had come from and about their accents. She said the policy would help prevent profiling and increase trust of the police in immigrant communities.
In October, a Fairfax County police officer was disciplined after he held a driver involved in a fender bender until ICE could pick her up. She was listed as having an immigration violation, and was detained on a misdemeanor for driving without a license.
“It’s don’t ask, don’t tell and don’t act,” said Burkley, who helped craft the policy with the department and county elected officials. “You can’t take action in any way on immigration status.”
Fairfax County police can still act on criminal violations of the immigration code, and nothing prevents them from detaining undocumented immigrants wanted for crimes.
“This policy reaffirms how we serve and safeguard everyone, regardless of where they come from,” Fairfax County police communications director Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement. “Everything we do is predicated on service to our community and all of our policies and procedures are co-produced with partners and advocates and rooted in our partnership with the many diverse neighborhoods that make up Fairfax County.”
The policy comes the same week that Prince William County officials decided to end participation in the controversial 287(g) program, which allows jail officials to check the immigration status of people detained for crimes and turn them over to federal officials for deportation proceedings. The program expires on June 30.