The Politics of ICE in Virginia

Jun 4, 2018

As the campaign season heats up heading into the primary this month, the issue of immigration is at the forefront in many campaigns.

How much should your local sheriff cooperate with federal immigration officials? In Fairfax County, the sheriff is terminating her contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In other places, sheriffs are moving in the opposite direction — Prince William County, for example. And earlier this year, Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins signed a new agreement that allows sheriff’s deputies to act as federal immigration officials.

“I’m going to do everything I can to see that people who could be harming our citizens, or anyone for that matter, doesn’t fall through the cracks and get released inadvertently when they could be held for whatever procedure ICE has.”

Credit ICE

But holding people without a warrant signed by a judge could be a problem, says Virginia legal expert Rich Kelsey.

“Even though the federal government may have a valid immigration hold or a detainer on that subject, to hold them past the time that you would otherwise hold them for a state charge gets into a murky area that could expose a locality to liability.”

In the Democratic primaries, candidates for Congress and several local offices are being asked if they’ll take a hard line against their local jails having a relationship with ICE. On the Republican side, Senate candidate and Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart is warning against the Fairfax approach of terminating the relationship with the feds.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.