Arlington must participate in Secure Communities
Arlington County has no choice but to work with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's Secure Communities program.
After a meeting between county and federal officials, County Manager Barbara M. Donnellan wrote a memo to the county board which said, "ICE stated clearly -- and with finality -- that local activated communities do not have the option of withholding information from the program, although communities can opt not to learn the results of immigration queries."
The Secure Communities program shares fingerprint information between county and federal databases to identify illegal immigrants.
Two options communities have are to not learn the results of the immigration database results and not sharing fingerprints. Both of these options are not acceptable to Arlington, Donnellan said, because sharing this information is "crucial to effective law enforcement" and helps "identify dangerous criminals."
Donnellan reiterated that the program could "foster fear and mistrust of local law enforcement" within Arlington's diverse community.
"I want to clearly state that while Arlington will continue to comply with all federal and state laws related to immigration, no resident or visitor should fear interacting with Arlington County law enforcement officers. Their mission is to provide for the safety and security of all people, and everyone's cooperation and support are vital if we are to continue to be one of the safest, most welcoming and inclusive communities in the country," Donnellan said.
The Arlington County Board voted unanimously in September to opt out of the entire federal program because it violated civil rights and liberties, according to the resolution.
| November 5, 2010; 5:34 PM ET
Categories: Arlington County, Christy Goodman
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