The Bizarro World of Sanctuary Jurisdictions: Fairfax County, Virginia
A police officer in Fairfax County, Virginia was suspended this week for (drumroll, please) … assisting the federal government in enforcing our nation’s immigration law. The county has been a “sanctuary” jurisdiction since May 2018 – which means that it severely limits its cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Like the almost 600 other sanctuary jurisdictions in the nation, Fairfax County has chosen to undermine federal immigration enforcement at the expense of its law-abiding citizens.
Following a public outcry – including stinging rebukes from acting ICE director Matthew T. Albence and former acting ICE director Tom Homan – the Fairfax County Police Chief cancelled the affected officer’s suspension and restored him to his duties. The Northern Virginia county, which neighbors the nation’s capital, nevertheless remains a “sanctuary” for illegal aliens.
The officer in question responded to a traffic accident near the intersection of Harrison Lane and South Kings Highway in Alexandria on Saturday, September 21. He quickly learned that one of the drivers did not have a driver’s license, and, upon checking his personal information, found out that the individual was an illegal alien for whom ICE had issued a fugitive warrant after he failed to appear for a deportation hearing.
The policeman promptly contacted the ICE officer listed on the warrant, handing the illegal alien over to him when the ICE agent arrived on the scene. The unauthorized foreign national was released by ICE three hours later (and issued an ankle monitor).
For his action – a routine case of aiding another agency – the police officer was subsequently punished. The Fairfax CountyPolice Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. suspended the officer for “unacceptable”behavior violating department policy and for “depriving a person of their freedom” by cooperating with ICE, a federal law enforcement agency.
Of course, the alien didn’t have any lawful right to be in the United States and had absconded, rather than appearing for a removal hearing. He therefore had no right to freedom from detention in the first place.
Roessler’s statement chastising the officer further asserted that “our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE. This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents. (…) It is my duty to enforce our FCPD – and Fairfax County – policies and hold all accountable for their actions.”
It is unclear what the “diversity” of Fairfax County –or any county within the U.S. for that matter – has to do with the issue at hand. The United States is a nation of laws, which apply equally to everyone, regardless of their ethnic or racial background. “Illegal alien” is a legal category – a foreign national in the country unlawfully and subject to removal– and not an ethnic, racial, or religious one. Furthermore, Fairfax County is not an independent entity, and its policies and rules do not trump federal immigration law.
The bottom line is this: Fairfax County is putting the interests of illegal aliens – people who have no legal right to be in the county (or the country) – ahead of citizens and legal immigrant residents. And it is willing to interfere with the careers of law-abiding county employees in order to do so. If Fairfax County continues to pursue this misguided policy it may well share the fate of Montgomery County, across the Potomac River in Maryland, whose sanctuary policies facilitated a recent illegal alien crime wave – a crime wave that would have been completely avoidable had the county cooperated with ICE.