Virginia Supreme Court Upholds Sheriff’s Agreement with ICE
FAIR Take | October 2020
Virginia’s highest court ruled unanimously against efforts by open-borders advocates to use the courts to turn the state into a sanctuary state.
On October 22, 2020, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit against Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins. Sheriff Jenkins and the County Board of Supervisors were sued by two Culpeper residents who alleged the Sherriff lacked the authority to use taxpayer monies to participate in the 287(g) program. They asked the court to end his agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The 287(g) program allows law enforcement agencies to partner with ICE to perform limited immigration enforcement functions. ICE calls 287(g) a “force multiplier,” since the agency’s own personnel can’t be everywhere at once.
The trial court ruled on July 8, 2019 that state and federal law provided more than sufficient authority for Sheriff Jenkins, or any other Virginia law enforcement agency head, to enter into a 287(g) agreement, and dismissed the suit. The Virginia Supreme Court went even further, saying the plaintiffs didn’t even have standing to sue because they hadn’t claimed specific county expenditures on the 287(g) agreement or that it had actually personally harmed them in some way. The Supreme Court said that the plaintiffs sued Sheriff Jenkins merely because they disagreed with his policy decision.
Sheriff Jenkins praised the decision, saying, “the Virginia Supreme Court confirmed what people with common sense have known all along – the Culpeper Sheriff’s Office cooperation with federal law enforcement on illegal immigration is entirely appropriate under the law.” He later added that he would “continue to do everything in my power to keep this community safe while upholding and defending our Constitution.”
Culpeper County is now the only jurisdiction in Virginia with a 287(g) agreement after Prince William County ended its agreement in June. Most of its neighboring states have more – three counties in Maryland have agreements to cooperate with ICE, two in Tennessee, and fifteen counties in North Carolina. Hopefully this decision will sway more Virginia law enforcement agencies to strongly consider the many benefits of cooperating with ICE and sign their own partnership agreements.
CLICK HERE to read the Virginia Supreme Court’s opinion in McClary v. Jenkins