The topic of sanctuary cities is a highly debated subject. The idea that law enforcement officers are prohibited from helping federal agents maintain order boggles the mind, and the resulting backlash of illegal immigrants being released from jail without notifying ICE is truly sickening. Many times these criminals are sent back into a susceptible society and go on to commit other crimes that likely would have been avoided had ICE been forewarned. So, what happens when an officer goes against sanctuary policy and turns an immigrant in to ICE? Well, for one Virginia police officer, the answer was suspension.
An officer with the Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) was dispatched to a vehicle collision on September 21. While interviewing the drivers, the officer discovered one of them did not have a valid license. A check with the Department of Motor Vehicles revealed that the driver had a violation for failing to appear for a deportation hearing. According to department policy, that part should be ignored since the individual was not being arrested for anything else.
The police officer, however, proceeded to contact ICE, and an agent just happened to be in the area. After citing the driver for not having a license, the officer handed the immigrant over to the federal agent.
This did not go over well with the Fairfax Police Department. Police Chief Edwin Roessler Jr. said, “This is an unfortunate issue where the officer was confused. We have trained on this issue a lot. This is the first time we’ve had a lapse in judgment, and the officer is being punished.”
The FCPD has had the General Order 601-Arrest procedures in place since 2007. Roessler said in a statement that it’s very clear what to do (or not do) when it pertains to illegal aliens. Section VIII c.5.e reads:
“If the response reads “OUTSTANDING ADMINISTRATIVE WARRANT OF REMOVAL” and the individual is not in custody or being taken into custody for any other violation of law, officers shall not confirm the hit through LESC and shall not take the individual into custody based solely upon the IVF hit. The majority of such administrative warrants represent civil violations of immigration law.”
The police chief added that “we do not enforce nor detain for administrative warrants and we have no authority to enforce federal law.” Although he did not identify the officer by name, Roessler said, “The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation.” He did admit he didn’t think the officer had broken the policy on purpose, but also said the department goes through vigorous training on how to avoid alerting ICE of illegal immigrants.
It is truly sad when a police officer gets into trouble for helping another law enforcement agency. The driver was already committing crimes, at least two; he was in the United States illegally and driving without a valid driver’s license. While these are not felonious offenses, they are against the law. Sanctuary laws essentially force local and state law enforcement to obstruct justice against federal agents. Hopefully, this Virginia police officer won’t receive too hefty of a fine for doing his job, or perhaps he will be able to move to a place that doesn’t have the restrictive policies in force.
Although the driver was released from ICE hold just three hours later with an ankle monitor, there have been numerous occasions when law enforcement did not notify ICE and the illegal immigrant went on to commit much worse crimes.
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