Prince William County Goes Beyond Own Sanctuary Policy, Ignores Criminal Arrest Warrant
A few months after ending its 287(g) cooperation agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Virginia’s second-most populous county appears to at least be toying with some of the most radical and reckless sanctuary policies in the country.
Prior to terminating its 287(g) agreement in June, Prince William County’s (PWC) program had led to the transfer of 2,639 county inmates to ICE custody after their jail sentences finished. Included in those handed over to ICE were 65 criminal aliens convicted of murder, 277 convicted of sexual assault, and 1,612 convicted of drunk driving.
At the time it ended the 287(g) agreement, the jail board claimed it would be adopting a new policy where the jail would only notify ICE or honor detainers for inmates who had been booked for a felony. According to ICE the policy the jail board announced it would implement was a dangerous one because it did not consider whether an inmate has a serious criminal history. Additionally, individuals arrested or convicted for criminal offenses abroad or those that may be wanted by foreign law enforcement authorities could be released back into the community since this information may not be available to local law enforcement in the U.S.
The danger of PWC’s policy was soon apparent. The PWC Jail on September 29 released illegal alien Edras Onel Vasquez Perez after his arrest on state misdemeanor domestic violence charges. He was released despite an immigration detainer issued by ICE and a felony criminal arrest warrant for Unlawful Reentry After Removal issued by a federal magistrate judge more than a year earlier. Releasing Vasquez back into the community and forcing ICE agents to arrest him when he could be armed placed both ICE officers and the PWC community at additional risk which was completely avoidable.
Matthew Munroe, ICE's Acting Field Director for Enforcement and Removal Operations in the Washington, DC, region, condemned the move by the PWC Jail, saying “Prince William County’s new noncooperation policy ignores common sense public safety policies for the sake of politics, even to the point of ignoring a federal criminal warrant issued by a U.S. District Court … ICE officers are sworn federal law enforcement officers who enforce the laws enacted by Congress. When local jurisdictions choose to treat a federal law enforcement agency differently, ignoring lawful detainers and warrants, it puts the public at risk, plain and simple.”