Fairfax County’s jail will no longer comply with federal immigration authorities’ detainer requests on illegal immigrants, the sheriff announced Tuesday, joining the number of communities that are balking at assisting President Trump on immigration.
Sheriff Stacey A. Kincaid said her department will still share information on people booked into the jail with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. But it will not hold them beyond their regular release time, she said.
She gave ICE 120 days’ notice, meaning the new refusal policy will kick in May 23.
“We found it expedient to no longer have an agreement that required us to extend our resources beyond these obligations,” the sheriff said.
Fairfax County is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia and the largest in the Washington region. More than 30 percent of its 1.1 million people are immigrants.
Immigrant-rights groups cheered the announcement, but said the county should go even further toward sanctuary status.
“This is a victory for the immigrant residents in Fairfax County,” said Michelle LaRue, director of the Virginia office for CASA, a major immigrant-rights advocate. “This is step in the right direction and a way to restore trust within the immigrant community.”
ICE said it believes its detention requests are legal, but said it will still keep working with Fairfax County on those areas where they can cooperate.
“ICE and Fairfax County remain committed to working together to protect public safety and will continue to work together to ensure the safe and orderly transfer of removable aliens to ICE custody pursuant to immigration detainers,” said Russell Hott, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations Washington, D.C.
The federal agency asks localities to provide advance notice of deportable aliens before they are to be released, and prefers that they be held for up to 48 hours.
Virginia law requires all inmates’ legal status to be verified, and the sheriff indicated she will continue sharing fingerprints with federal authorities as required.
But she said they won’t hold people beyond their regular release times unless ICE presents a court-approved order.
Sanctuary cities were a major issue in last year’s Virginia governor’s race, with Republican Ed Gillespie promising a crackdown — though he also said there were no sanctuaries in the state.
Democrat Ralph Northam, who won the race and was sworn in earlier this month as governor, said he would support a bill to crack down on sanctuary cities should one pop up in the state.