Immigrants in Fairfax County

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.

 

Resources for Immigrants

 

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.”

 

Sanctuary City Status

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors has not designated Fairfax County as a sanctuary county. Fairfax cooperates to the fullest extent required by federal, state or local law with any law enforcement agency, including ICE, requesting criminal law enforcement assistance The federal courts have determined that the enforcement of civil immigration laws is a federal responsibility. Fairfax County seeks to protect the federal and state constitutional rights of all persons, including immigrants..

 

Health and Human Services

As with any 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. All Sheriffs in Virginia are required by Code of Virginia § 19.2-83.2 and § 53.1-218 to determine the residency status of individuals arrested and brought to jail. During the booking process, fingerprints are automatically transmitted to a state database to which all local, state and national law enforcement agencies, including ICE, have access. Per Code of Virginia § 53.1-220.2, the Sheriff’s Office will transfer custody of an adjudicated inmate to ICE up to five days prior to the date that he or she would otherwise be released.

The Sheriff’s Office does not book anyone into the Adult Detention Center nor hold inmates past their court ordered release date without a judicial warrant. Deputies do not participate in, nor provide assistance to, ICE activities out in the community.

The Sheriff’s Office worked with the ACLU to create a written notice informing undocumented immigrants about the availability of free legal advice from the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition. Deputies distribute the printed notice to all inmates that have an ICE detainer. The notice is available in English, Spanish and Korean. Regardless of a person’s immigration status, the Sheriff’s Office ensures that every incarcerated person has telephone and in-person access to their attorney.

 

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.