Immigrants in Fairfax County

Feb. 24, 2017

Fairfax County has received several inquiries about federal changes in policies or procedures regarding immigrants. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Fairfax County Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to adopt the following resolution on April 4, 2017:

Whereas, Fairfax County is and will continue to be a County that exemplifies values of respect and acceptance;

Whereas, we welcome and celebrate one another’s differences and cultural backgrounds;

Whereas, while immigration is a federal matter, Fairfax County does partner with federal authorities on serious criminal matters when required;

Whereas, we do not ask, nor do we have the resources for, our police officers to become immigration officials, nor for Fairfax County to assume the responsibilities of federal immigration officials;

Whereas, Fairfax County Police successfully engage in community policing, which requires the trust of residents who are not afraid to call law enforcement if their safety is at risk, or to report information that may help to solve a crime;

Whereas, it is the responsibility of our police officers to ensure the safety of Fairfax County residents through community policing rather than through immigration enforcement;

Whereas, Fairfax County Public Schools complies with the federally mandated requirements that we educate all children, regardless of immigration status;

Whereas, the School Board is committed to maintaining a safe, inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all children in our public school system and Fairfax County Public Schools values the richly diverse backgrounds of our students and families;

Whereas, Fairfax County’s diversity makes our community strong and vibrant, and we are proud of what every resident has to offer;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors does hereby affirm our strong commitment to maintaining a community culture that values and celebrates the similarities as well as the differences among our neighbors

Chairman Sharon Bulova stated in her Board Matter that same day, “Fairfax County is a welcoming and accepting community where residents of all backgrounds deserve to feel respected and safe. It is important that we, as local leaders, speak out when our constituents are concerned regarding policies or practices that may affect them. We are a safe, diverse and caring community, and if that harmony is threatened, I believe we have a duty to speak out and clearly articulate our values.”

Health and Human Services

As with any new federal administration, there may be changes that impact programs and services provided at the local level. Our housing, health and human services programs and legislative staff are actively monitoring executive orders and proposals by Congress in assessing any immediate and long-term impacts. Despite uncertainty, our mission to support the well-being of all who live, work and play in Fairfax County remains the same. For any family or individual in need, county services are available to help you. We encourage you to contact our offices to seek assistance.

Sheriff’s Office

The Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office is a public safety agency committed to ensuring the safety and security of the diverse communities it serves. The Sheriff's Office operates the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center (ADC) and complies with local, state and federal laws.

Fairfax County Sheriff's deputies are not involved in any immigration enforcement activities in the community.  Sheriff’s Office involvement begins when a law enforcement officer makes an arrest and brings the individual to the ADC.

Standard Operating Procedure 526 details the interaction between the Sheriff's Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):

M. Notification and Reporting of Alien Commitments

  1. Code of Virginia, 19.2-83.2 and 53.1-218 requires that jail officers ascertain citizenship of all inmates.
  2. The booking deputy must make an immigration alien query to the Law Enforcement Support Center of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement if an inmate:
    • was born in a country other than the United States,
    • is a citizen of a country other than the United States, or
    • for whom the answer to the above is unknown.
  3. If a person is committed and held for ICE only, the inmate will be booked into SIMS, as Held for Jail Jurisdiction- “ICE Immigration and Customs Enforcement INS”, Confinement Status- “HF Hold for Federal” and Confinement Reason- “73- Held for Federal Authority/DC”. Inmate Records will contact ICE to arrange transfer of custody by faxing Attachment 7. Forms I-200 (Warrant for arrest of alien) and I-203 (Order to detain or release alien) must be received to serve as a formal detainer. The data must be accurately reported in SIMS prior to entering the results into the Local Inmate Data System (LIDS).
    • If a prisoner is eligible for immediate release and wanted by ICE, but the I-200 and I-203 forms are not present, the prisoner will be released from our custody. In these situations, ICE will obtain as much personal information as possible to further their investigation.
    • Once the formal detainer has been received, the prisoner will be booked out of our custody and recommitted as a courtesy hold for ICE. ICE will have up to 48 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, to assume custody of the prisoner. Should that time expire and ICE has not assumed custody, the prisoner shall be released immediately from our custody.
    • There are some jurisdictions that still recognize the I-247 form as an ICE detainer. If a prisoner is booked in to the ADC from another jurisdiction with the I-247 form, all paperwork shall be forwarded to Inmate Records and they will make the appropriate notifications to ICE.
    • In the event that a locally sentenced inmate's scheduled release date falls on a weekend or holiday, upon receipt of an ICE detainer pursuant to Code of Virginia 53.1-220.2, the following will apply. ICE will be notified to assume custody of the inmate within five days of his/her release. This is not applicable to Department of Corrections inmates and inmates that have a mandatory minimum sentence.*
    • Any unusual circumstances that occur that are not covered in this policy shall be forwarded to Inmate Records for review and the final decision.
  4. Deputies shall communicate (enter) the results of any immigration alien query to the Local Inmate Data System of the State Compensation Board prior to the end of their shift.

Effective April 4, 2017, the Sheriff's Office entered into an intergovernmental services agreement with ICE to hold inmates no more than 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) past their release date under the conditions listed in the above policy.

* Inmates in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center are released from custody for several different reasons. In many of these instances, our staff does not have advance notice of when an inmate will be released from our custody. For example, when an inmate is able to have their bond paid, staff receives a notice from the Magistrate’s Office to release them shortly after the bond has been paid. We also do not receive advance notice that an inmate will be released from our custody when they appear in court and are given a sentence that is equal to or less than the time that they have already served. It is not possible for our staff to utilize Virginia Code section 53.1-220.2 in these circumstances. 

When an inmate is sentenced in court, and they have not yet completed their sentence, our staff is able to determine when they will be released from custody. In this instance, Virginia Code section 53.1-220.2 is applied accordingly, and ICE will assume custody of the individual on or before their scheduled release date.

Police Department

The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) investigates every crime reported to them and responds to every call for police assistance, regardless of a person's immigration status. They strive to serve, protect and provide police assistance to anyone in this county who needs it.  When the police arrest someone, they do not check immigration status.

The Police Department is not involved in targeted immigration enforcement operations with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Local and state law enforcement officers, including Fairfax County, do not have the authority to conduct immigration enforcement sweeps or stop anyone solely to inquire about their citizenship or immigration status.

Prior to any HSI activity, the investigators make every effort to notify the Police Department through the communications dispatch center. This is done for general awareness purposes and in the event they experience an unforeseen emergency that requires local law enforcement or emergency medical assistance.

The below paragraphs cite the FCPD General Order 601 – Arrest Procedures:

“Our officers have limited authority to arrest undocumented aliens for violations of federal immigration laws under the Virginia Code. If we come in contact with any person in the performance of our duties and a warrant check is conducted via the National Criminal Information Center (NCIC), the Immigration Violators File (IVF) is automatically searched and a “hit” may be received. IVF hits are based on administrative warrants entered by ICE (now called HSI) on deported felons and absconders. There are situations (e.g., reports of suspicious persons or activity) in which officers may not have reasonable suspicion that an individual has committed or is committing a crime, or probable cause to effect an arrest, but still have cause to check a person’s wanted status through NCIC. It is the policy of the Department to not knowingly release any  person identified and confirmed by ICE (HSI) as a previously deported felon  illegally present in the United States back into the community if  probable cause to arrest under the provisions of §19.2-81.6 exists, or  a detainer can be obtained.

“If the response reads “OUTSTANDING ADMINISTRATIVE WARRANT OF REMOVAL” and the individual is not in custody or being taken into custody for any other violation of law, officers shall not confirm the hit through the LESC and shall not take the individual into custody based solely upon the IVF hit. The majority of such administrative warrants represent civil violations of immigration law.”

The following criteria must exist for a FCPD officer to effect an arrest an illegal alien as it pertains to Virginia State Code §19.2-81.6:

§19.2-81.6. Authority of law-enforcement officers to arrest illegal aliens. All law-enforcement officers enumerated in § 19.2-81 shall have the authority to enforce immigration laws of the United States, pursuant to the provisions of this section. Any law-enforcement officer enumerated in § 19.2-81 may, in the course of acting upon reasonable suspicion that an individual has committed or is committing a crime, arrest the individual without a warrant upon receiving confirmation from the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States Department of Homeland Security that the individual (i) is an alien illegally present in the United States, and (ii) has previously been convicted of a felony in the United States and deported or left the United States after such conviction. Upon receiving such confirmation, the officer shall take the individual forthwith before a magistrate or other issuing authority and proceed pursuant to § 19.2-81.

Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court

The Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court adheres to the Code of Virginia  with respect to reporting violent felonies to the proper authorities. Virginia Code Section 16.1-309.1 (H) states “that an intake officer shall report to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States Department of Homeland Security a juvenile who has been detained in a secure facility based on an allegation that the juvenile committed a violent felony and who the intake officer has probable cause to believe is in the United States illegally.” The intake officer will complete a violent offender form which assists in determining this status.

Sanctuary City Status

Fairfax County is not a Sanctuary County or Sanctuary City.

It is important to note that the term “sanctuary county” or (more commonly) “sanctuary city” is not a legal term, and therefore the term means different things to different people. Generally, the term sanctuary city is given to cities in the United States or Canada that have policies designed to shelter illegal immigrants. The term generally applies to cities that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual's immigration status.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has not designated Fairfax County as a sanctuary county. In fact, a review shows no indication that the board has taken any action that could be interpreted as making Fairfax County a sanctuary county. County agencies and officials strive to comply with all federal requirements to determine an individual’s immigration status.

Additional Information

This page will continue to be updated as changes happen or new information is available. You may also stay connected to Fairfax County through NewsCenter and our social media channels for the latest news and information.

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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