Arlington County Opposes Laws Requiring Police To Verify Immigration Status

Comments at League of Women Voters Hosted Hearing For Arlington Legislators, December 19, 2019

On Immigration:

I oppose an initiative included in the County Board legislative package to the General Assembly that would:

“Oppose any state mandate to localities requiring local law enforcement officers to evaluate the immigration status of individuals encountered during lawful stops or other routine police activities.”

First, this language turns the law on its head, because police officers are required to enforce the law, including immigration laws. See 8 U.S. Code § 1373 and 8 U.S. Code § 1644.

Second, proscribing traffic stops for immigration offenses amounts to selective enforcement, insofar as it requires police to ignore immigration offenses while citing non-immigration offenses. Selective enforcement of the law is a per se violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Third, it is well known that the principal victims of crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants are legal immigrants. Barring police from citing undocumented persons will serve to oppress the many thousands of legal immigrants and naturalized citizens who reside in Northern Virginia.

Fourth, those who promote non-enforcement of immigration laws are using the issue as a cudgel to score political points by race baiting opponents. This type of demagoguery should not be tolerated by the General Assembly.

On Transportation:

A recently published VDOT report indicates that average speeds are down and travel time is up on eastbound I-66 Inside the Beltway toll lanes.

The likely culprit is tolling cheating on eastbound I-66 resulting from lack of enforcement by Virginia State Police due to unsafe road shoulders from which to monitor toll traffic. I urge the General Assembly to consult with VDOT regarding the installation of electronic detection devices at toll gantries to enable adequate surveillance of road traffic on eastbound I-66.

15 comments on “Arlington County Opposes Laws Requiring Police To Verify Immigration Status

  1. December 21, 2019 Allen Muchnick

    Local governments are NOT required to enforce federal immigration laws, and the new law(s) you apparently favor would be an unfunded state mandate. Requiring local police to enforce federal immigration laws would divert local policing away from real public safety activities and/or increase the tax burden on local taxpayers.

    However, the primary reason why the Arlington County Board and most other local governing bodies oppose state or federal mandates to enforce federal immigration laws is to build and maintain trust and cooperation between immigrant communities (both lawful and undocumented) and local law enforcement. When immigrants fear cooperating with local police to report or to help solve crimes, public safety in the locality is degraded for everyone.

    • December 21, 2019 Audrey

      8 USC 1373 and 8 USC 1644 definitely require cooperation of local authorities with INS. Also the notion that trust within the immigrant community can be built by violating federal law is a hoot. In recent commentary on the issue the Center for Immigration Studies explored how this strategy would play out in Black communities:

      “Imagine the reaction of members of the African-American community to an announced policy that henceforth, in the interests of community relations, the police will take a soft approach toward crime — even violent crimes against persons or property — and strive to promptly release arrested individuals back into the community as a way to ensure that members of that community will in the future be predisposed to report offenses and cooperate with police. Whatever trust gap there may be, no one is foolish enough to presume that members of the African-American community are so unsophisticated as to think that this would accrue to their benefit, or that it would make them feel warm and cuddly about the police.”

      Trust in authority is built by enforcing the law across the board, not through selective enforcement or non-enforcement. It is precisely because the law is selectively enforced or not enforced at all in communities of color that minorities consider the government a bad joke.

  2. December 22, 2019 Allen Muchnick

    I’m not a lawyer, but my reading of those federal statutes is that states and localities cannot PROHIBIT information exchange or cooperation with federal immigration agencies. Those statutes do NOT mandate that state or local agencies perform the work of federal law enforcement officials to enforce immigration laws.

    In forming its legislative agenda, the Arlington County Board was almost certainly well informed and advised by the County Attorney’s office that it is legally sound.

    No police agency seeks to enforce all laws equally. Strategically setting and following priorities for law enforcement is fundamental to effectively operating every law enforcement agency, just as it is in every aspect of government, business, and personal life.

    Your statement to the Arlington Delegation is simply misinformed and ill advised.

  3. December 22, 2019 Audrey

    Okay. So police officers are required to conduct criminal background checks at traffic stops but not immigration status checks?

  4. December 22, 2019 Allen Muchnick

    I don’t believe local police are required to check immigration status in Virginia. Undocumented immigration status–in itself–does not endanger public safety.

    Local police officers are sworn to protect everyone, including undocumented immigrants and all other non-citizens. If local police were to report undocumented persona to federal immigration authorities, undocumented day laborers would not report their employers who failed to pay or otherwise abused them, and undocumented women (or men) would not report abuse by either strangers or domestic partners.

    The Center for Immigration Studies has been identified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  5. December 22, 2019 Audrey

    If a person cannot produce proof of his her immigration status he she is in violation of U.S. immigration law. I find it very interesting that state police are empowered to detain people who have violated other U.S. laws but not immigration law which is part of U.S. law.

    Also the SPLC has been sued by CIS for libel. I don’t know the outcome of the case but nothing I’ve read from CIS is remotely hate group. In fact the real racists are those who would deny legal immigrants the same protections awarded to U.S. citizens under state and federal law.

  6. December 23, 2019 Allen Muchnick

    CIS was co-founded by John Tanton, a notorious white nationalist; it’s various reports have been widely disputed; and CIS’s defamation law suit against SPLC was dismissed by the U.S. District Court in September 2019. [ ]

    Your claim that not *requiring* local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws is “racist” or in any way detrimental to legal immigrants is nonsense.

    For a good summary of this issue, read [ ].

    • December 23, 2019 Audrey

      That CIS’ founder was/is a supremacist does not implicate CIS anymore than the fact that Woodrow Wilson was a racist implicates the DP or that Trump was is a racist implicates the GOP.

      Non-enforcement of immigration laws adversely affects those who are legally here, both in the form of crime perpetrated by illegals and lost wages by those who compete with them for jobs. Thus to advocate or promote non-enforcement is inherently racist.

  7. December 24, 2019 Allen Muchnick

    The Jim Crow-era southern Democrats were indeed vile white supremacists. If CIS sounds like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s almost certainly a duck.

    No local law enforcement agency has ignored or not fully enforced any violent or personal crimes perpetrated by undocumented persons. Moreover, federal immigration officers are not inhibited from apprehending undocumented persons who are arrested by state or local police.

    The most effective and suitable way to protect domestic jobs for U,S, citizens and documented immigrants is to prosecute those unscrupulous employers who hire undocumented workers.

    Labeling everyone who opposes requiring state or local law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration laws as “inherently racist” is a mindless and arrogant ad hominem, not a reasoned argument.

  8. December 24, 2019 Audrey Clement

    Yet it is reasonable to libel CIS as a hate group for advocating aggressive enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.

    • December 25, 2019 Allen Muchnick

      SPLC’s fact-based reporting of CIS’s racist activities was not libel.

      “In 2016, the SPLC began describing CIS as an anti-immigrant hate group. It cited CIS’s repeated publication of white nationalist and anti-Semitic writers, its employment of an analyst known to promote racist pseudoscience, its association with John Tanton, and its record of publishing reports that it said hyped the criminality of immigrants.[5] In 2019, CIS sued the SPLC over the hate group designation in a RICO lawsuit, alleging that the designation was false and part of a “smear campaign.”[54][55] Notre Dame Law School professor G. Robert Blakey, the author of the 1970 RICO statute, described CIS’s filing as “not too thoughtful” and said its legal claims lacked merit. The SPLC described the suit as an attempt to suppress their right to free speech.[56]….The lawsuit was dismissed in September 2019 by Judge Amy Berman Jackson for failure to state a claim.[8]”

      [ ]

  9. December 25, 2019 Audrey Clement

    The reason for dismissal of the CIS libel suit says it all. Whether one agrees with its claim or not, it obviously has a claim of libel in being defamed as a hate group. I’ve been reading CIS for several months and the only thing I’ve found questionable is its disputation of poor conditions at border detention facilities. Its press releases do not advocate white supremacy or eugenics. CIS advocates enforcement of existing immigration laws. That’s pretty tame.

    Also CIS lists among its former board members George Borjas. a highly respected Harvard economist who published a rigorously researched study of the adverse economic impact of recent waves of immigration to the U.S.–“We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative. ”

    One may dispute Borjas’ methods or his findings, but to characterize him as hateful or racist because his views don’t conform with mainstream liberal orthodoxy is defamatory.

  10. January 17, 2020 Allen Muchnick

    I did not comment to criticize CIS or to defend its critics. My point was that your support for unfunded state mandates that local police departments be required to enforce federal immigration laws is fiscally irresponsible and inimical to public safety.

  11. January 18, 2020 Audrey

    The legislation that I oppose reads as follows:

    “Oppose any state mandate to localities requiring local law enforcement officers to evaluate the immigration status of individuals encountered during lawful stops or other routine police activities.”

    I understand this to mean that the state cannot require local police to perform background checks for the purpose of determining a person’s immigration status. Is that correct?

  12. January 30, 2020 Allen Muchnick

    You wrote: “I understand this to mean that the state cannot require local police to perform background checks for the purpose of determining a person’s immigration status. Is that correct?”

    I believe the Commonwealth of Virginia could require that if a relevant statute were enacted.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: