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County Presses for Clarification on Secure Communities

by ARLnow.com — October 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm 1,500 44 Comments

At the board’s behest, Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan sent a letter to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton yesterday, seeking clarification on whether Arlington can withdraw from the Secure Communities program, and, if it can, how it may do so.

“We need to ask him to clarify this conflicting information we’ve been getting,” county board member Walter Tejada said in a telephone interview last night. He was referring to a recent Washington Post article that suggested communities will not be able to opt-out of the immigration enforcement initiative, as the county board had been led to believe.

“Once we have that clarification, and we better understand what else we need to be asking, we’re going to go from there,” Tejada said.

The board’s effort to opt-out of Secure Communities received a public endorsement this week when the New York Times ran an editorial calling on the Obama administration to accomodate the request. San Francisco, Santa Clara, Ca. and the District have also expressed interest in opting out of the program.

“Washington needs to find a way to allow cities like San Francisco and Washington to enforce the law without turning into a branch of ICE,” the Times said.

Also this week, County Board Vice Chairman Chris Zimmerman came out strongly in favor of withdrawing from Secure Communities while speaking at Wednesday’s Arlington County Democratic Committee meeting.

“This is the practical effect of an anti-immigrant policy masquerading as a crime issue,” Zimmerman said of Secure Communities, which has helped the federal government deport a record number of illegal immigrants over the past year. He said the Obama administration-endorsed policy “challenges our commitment to our core beliefs” and “make[s] our communities less secure.”

Tejada, who championed the resolution calling for Arlington to opt-out of Secure Communities, said the program actually hinders law enforcement by causing the immigrant community to disengage from public authorities.

“We’ve had a long, successful history of community policing,” he said. “We want to maintain that trust between the community and the police… so we can continue to report crimes and so people who are victims of crimes can step forward and report it.”

Mark Kelly, the Republican who is trying to unseat Zimmerman on the county board next month, said last week’s unannounced vote on the Secure Communities resolution did not receive the proper public scrutiny.

“That’s not the Arlington Way,” he told the Sun Gazette.

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  • Mike

    I’m confused. Mr. Zimmerman says that the Secure Communities Initiative is an “anti-immigrant policy masquerading as a crime issue,” but isn’t it a crime issue if an immigrant is in our community illegally? Please help me understand.

  • Bob

    Jose aka Walter certainly is a one-trick pony!

    • que_de_que

      Bob aka boob certainly is obsessed with referring to Mr. Tejada as “Jose”!

  • John Standish

    Mike- So easily confusing it is! You see, people like YOU see it as an “illegal” immigrant problem… so typical of someone who has a legal presence in this country to overemphasize that whole “legal” nonsense(!)… People like THEM (Jose, Zimmerhump, et al) see these poor, misunderstood immigrants as the victims of a bureaucracy that simply failed to properly document them when they crossed into our country at one of the many thousands of unmanned bordering crossings… They and their champions like to think of themselves as “Late Pilgrims” or “Missed The Boat To Ellis Island-ers”…

    • Matt

      Well thank God the “illegals” i live next to want to establish a permant life here and don’t just work to save their money to send back to their families back south… oh wait, they do. Well at least they share their cock roaches with me. And yes, I know they’re illegal. They bragged to me about it. Like a sense of pride among them. I love Arlington.

  • Patrick

    Mike it certainly is a crime issue considering the Secure Communities program only fingerprints individuals and forwards their information to ICE AFTER they have committed a crime in that community.

    • Thes

      I do not think that is correct. The program is not limited to providing information only regarding persons who have been convicted of a crime. It requires sharing information about other categories of people, too.

    • BoredHouseWife

      That is the way it works for all types of people. You have to commit a crime before you are arrested. This goes for everyone, including you, whitey.

      It is 2003, and you are making mud pies to subsist, or you have to run from the drug lords, whichever. Your cousin has come from the States, and he tells you all about how they are hiring illegal aliens up the whazoo and that you will make so much money if you move to PW county Va. SO you make arrangements with your coyote, and miraculous make it up here in NOVA. Fast forward, several years later, the political climate has changed, and you are the scapegoat. You are to be blamed for all the problems of that area (rightfully or wrongfully) You still owe your coyote and you need to make money but now its not in style to pick up illegals at the weenie beanie (has no idea if they are all illegals). what are you going to do? You are going to stay off the grid that’s what you do if you are smart. How will you make money? By doing things clandestinely. You cannot go back home, because, well you owe your coyote.

      My point is this: We can waste our resources and time by doing things we are doing now, or we can offer amnesty for those who donate their time or money to our community. (I am betting it is time)

      I do think there are those who would love to give back if given that chance.

      P.s. it takes years to get your papers, unless you are well connected.

      • Kalashnikev

        That’s quite a tale you tell there, BHW… but do you have any understanding of how coyotes work? It’s not like that. And anyway, here it is in black and white: you commit a crime by illegally crossing our National Border, it doesn’t matter AT ALL what your intentions are. Let’s say I’m hungry and I need some fast cash? Can I reach into your pocket and help myself?

        There is no way to morally justify criminal behavior. There is only one thing to be done with criminal aliens- pursue them, find them, capture them, punish them, deport them. There’s nothing to feel sorry about here. There’s nothing for them in this country but pain, heartache, and despair- until such a time as they choose to leave and come back legit.

  • Lou

    I would like to see this on the ballot as a referendum. If a majority of the county supports this effort, then let the Board pursue whatever special exemption ICE can provide. If a majority supports participation in Secure Communities, then I would like to see the Board get back to the important day-to-day issues the County faces.

    This is beginning to look more like a political pandering effort just prior to the elections, and if that is the case then let the voters respond directly.

    Of course it is probably technically too late to add it to the ballot. That is convenient for them.

    • Matt

      I think in the same referendum, Arlington should be allowed to vote to form its own independent nation as it clearly does not want to follow federal law.

    • GK

      I agree with you Lou. This is the sort of issue that the citizens should have a right to vote on. Right now, it is merely an issue that the county board has taken on as their own cause. Is it Arlington’s cause? Let the people speak.

      • Just the Facts

        This call for a referendum every time the County does something you don’t like is so tiresome. The vote has already occurred: it resulted in the current County Board members being elected. If you don’t like what they do in office then vote against them…convince 50%+1 of your fellow voting Arlingtonians to join you and you can replace each and every one of the current Board members in 4 short years.

        Or, if you want a direct democracy (as opposed to a representative democracy, which, by the way, is a 250+ year American institution), then work to change our form of government.

        Short of the above, stop calling for a referendum every time the Board pisses you off.

        • Tad

          LOL. When did the last backroom-annointed Democratic Board Candidate have anywhere near a close election? Seems a lot like democracy in the Soviet Union.

          • Charly

            What are you saying, that the elections here are rigged? Whoever gets the most votes wins. Just because you don’t like the outcome makes this a bogus democracy?

          • Just the Facts

            I agree with Charly. A comparison of overwhelming legitimate electoral wins to a failed Communist state just shows how bankrupt his ideas are. What’s next, accusing Zimmie of hiding his foreign birth?!? Arlington birthers unite!

  • deborah

    Any police dept, city council or whoever that opposes enforcing our laws does not deserve to have a job. It is unfathomable that the police are against catching criminals, as all illegals are. Not only being illegal but all the other crimes they commit. See Nicky Diaz, a perfect example of an illegal breaking multiple laws. Americans expect our police and leaders to serve and protect their constituents. We need to vote out any and all who wish to look the other way and protect the illegals. They are supposed to enforce all law, no pick and choose which ones they like.

    • Just the Facts

      Such ignorance. Not all illegally aliens are criminals. Nearly half of those here illegally have committed only a civil violation.

      As for “picking and choosing” the laws to enforce, local police enforce local and state laws; federal law enforcement officers enforce federal law. There is no picking or choosing about it, that’s the way it is.

      To show how hollow this hue and cry about not enforcing federal laws is, just apply the argument to criminal federal tax violations. Let me know if you feel as strongly about the Arlington Police knocking on your door to ask about your improperly filed 1040…

  • Skeptical

    The New York Times Editorial seems to assume a priori that once this program is adopted in a community, police will make random stops in order to create a dragnet for persons who are not here legally. I really think we need to pull back and ask how likely that is in Arlington.

    I also have to wonder if everyone has lost sight of the fact that this program is likely to catch people who have committed repeated illegal border crossings (such as drug traffickers), people wanted for prior crimes (including crimes of violence) in other jurisdictions, and people *other* than poor Latinos who are in the Washington area for hostile reasons — let’s not forget that one of the 9/11 pilots was living on the taxpayer dime in a local Section 8 apartment.

    There’s so much frenzy for people to fall over each other championing the cause of social justice that it appears we live in a community of people willing to risk their bodily safety and personal property to demonstrate that they are not big meanies. Unless I am completely misreading the requirement for this program to transmit information about people booked for offenses above a certain level of gravity, we are not talking about someone getting deported for jaywalking.

    I agree our immigration laws need some work, but I can’t see that it is therefore our obligation to make Arlington into a “safe haven” for, say, housebreakers, Peeping Toms or brawlers lacking legal presence.

  • Anthony

    I don’t understand the reasoning behind this. If you are a victim of a crime, the police will not take your fingerprints, so you will not be pursued by ICE if you are not here legally. So “illegals” will still be able to report crimes to the police without the threat of being deported. What’s the problem?

    • Matt

      That kind of logic will not get you re-elected! Duh!

  • Kalashnikev

    I’m absolutely sickened by Tejada and his repeated attempts to favor criminal aliens over honest, law abiding citizens of this county. Patrick has it exactly right- but the criminal enablers in office are trying to play up the emotional aspect over the facts. There must be a “primary offense” (DUI, Domestic Violence, vagrancy, Drugs, Unlawful possession of a weapon, vandalism, robbery, etc.) before this info is ever recorded.

    Here is some emotion for the sympathizers- there IS a path to lawful citizenship in this country.

    There is only ONE path for those who come here to disrespect our culture and violate our laws- pursuit, detention, and deportation.

  • tuesdayschild

    I do not understand who these people in the red shirts are? They are clapping because the county board wants to protect illegal aliens who are also violent criminals? The county board is living in left wing fantasy land. And they wonder why there is such a vocal effort to throw out the entire form of government with the recent (albeit failed) referendum initiative. I need to get a Murray campaign sign.

    • Kalashnikev

      Isn’t that Prison Orange? I think those are the MS-13 gangbangers from down on Columbia Pike… they’re safe now (temporarily) thanks to Tejada and his despicable actions.

      • tuesdayschild

        I am surprised there is not great voter mobilization against the Board. This secure communities policy goes directly against safety of the community; all to pander for hispanic and other immigrant vote.

        • Kalashnikev

          TC, I feel that there will be now that they have taken a stand against public safety and the rule of law. They have my attention at least… when’s the next election???

          • Just the Facts

            Hahaha…you are kidding, right? They have your attention and you have to ask when the next election is???

            Nothing like b*tching and moaning about your government while being nearly clueless about how it works.

  • BoredHouseWife

    Why don’t we blame, oh, I don’t know, NAFTA. I didn’t see this much immigrant hate when they were building y’alls McMansions. Just sayin’.

    • Kalashnikev

      BHW, It’s not “Immigrant Hatred,” my significant other happens to be an immigrant herself.

      Guess what? She did it legally. Guess what else? She feels the same way we all do about criminal aliens and social parasites preying on our community.

      • BoredHouseWife

        This is not directed at you personally. I say that most people barely made a peep during the housing bubble. But now, well they are (forgive my pun) pinatas. It is awfully continent don’t you think, that the companies that encouraged maybe even aided in their illegal immigration, are off scott free, but the poor (it is always the poor)get scapegoated.

        I say let them have the ability to show their worth. Get their identities in the system and many of our issues would be solved. The govt. or community, could look at that person’s data and determine if they are worth keeping or sending back. If they want to be a part of this community then they must demonstrate it. As of now, they cannot.

    • el fat kid

      On a national level there is a strong correlation between how important voters rank the issue of illegal immigration and how well the economy is doing. It for the most part fell off the radar from 97-2006. somewhat interesting.

  • MC

    The new County Manager, who just replaced the recently hired County Manager who was paid to leave because he “didn’t fit,” is devoting her new responsibilities to challenging federal government policy at the request of the Board. Is this what the County manager is hired to do, write politically controversial letters that the Board is unwilling to write themselves? Does the Board have a political litmus test for county employees?

    • Kalashnikev

      I know… who’s making these decisions here? 4 months on the job and a six figure severance? Public officials going on the record to encourage criminality in our communities? Seriously… WHAT’S GOING ON???

  • que_de_que

    Just because a certain law is in place doesn’t make it reasonable. See laws against interracial marriages, laws against homosexuality, and so on.

    It’s too bad Congress doesn’t have the b*lls to address the immigration issue simply because it’s afraid of offending a xenophobic minority that’s scared about the inevitable “browning” of the U.S.

    • el fat kid

      this might be the worst insight on congress i’ve heard since Rick Sanchez was fired.

      Reciting left wing editorials only gets you half way there, perro. There are several different camps dug in and refusing to budge or allow a compromise to move forward, including the pinkos who don’t think any country has a moral right to limit who comes and goes.

      • que_de_que

        um, “perro”? did you just call me… a dog? i’m sure you’ve heard this before, but name-calling isn’t exactly mature.

        • el fat kid

          it was meant more in the dawg form.

  • Charly

    Read in the paper today that McDonnell “fired up” the tea party convention by committing to a “proposed constitutional amendment giving states the authority to repeal federal legislation.” So are those who are accusing Arl County of picking and choosing which laws to follow (and Secure Communities is not a law, by the way) also outraged by this tea party proposition?

    • tuesdayschild

      I agree the tea party proposal to invalidate federal legislation is a terrible idea. There are fools on the left and right in politics. Anyone with knowledge of early american history knows that one of the reasons the country almost fell apart after the revolutionary war (and before the current constitution was enacted) was that the individual states retained sovereignty over the central government, and the central government could not raise funds or enact national legislation.

      • Just the Facts

        Oh Gawd, don’t let an *actual* understanding of American political history influence the debate! ;)

  • BasedHerein

    Every post on here that mentions the illegal alien issue has at least one comment about xenophobia, such as que_de_que’s statement about “offending a xenophobic minority that’s scared about the inevitable ‘browning’ of the U.S.” That’s a red herring. Much like the “racist” label has become thanks to it’s knee-jerk usage. I dismiss most commenters as fools when they try to lump all legitimately concerned citizens in with those fringe xenophobes they try to cast all concerned citizens as.

    Illegal immigration is a serious issue. And it’s not just about hispanic and arab and asian illegals, but… gasp!… white European illegals too, and frankly, anyone who comes across our borders undocumented. The xenophobia concern is vastly exaggerated. For most reasonable people I DO NOT think it’s about “browning” or even language barriers of immigrants. It’s about law abiding citizens paying taxes that benefit people who shouldn’t be entitled to those benefits. Don’t we have enough LEGAL citizens who need those benefits? And yes, you probably see a little more scrutiny of that when the economy is down and our taxes are going up to pay for new entitlement programs. Meanwhile, I suspect the LEGAL citizens who need help are seeing reduced benefits because they’re competing for a slice of that same finite “benefit pie.”

    • Just the Facts

      The problem is that your argument has no factual basis. I assume by “benefits” you mean some sort of direct government financial assistance. (There’s no way you could intend for “benefits” to include roads, sidewalks, police and fire protection, etc. because those things are provided to all people physically in a jursidiction regardless of where or whether they pay taxes.)

      Illegal immigrants are barred from receiving any sort of welfare. So you getting all worked up about illegal immigrants isn’t really about citizens being denied benefits because they are being consumed by illegal immigrants. So what is it?

      • IvanG

        Illegal immigrants do impose welfare costs. For one thing, they get free medical care by going to the hospital emergency room. Their children, legal or not, get free education and free medical care courtesy of S-CHIP. No one checks whether they are here legally, so they can even get benefits that they are “barred” from receiving. But this issue — Secure Communities — deals with deporting those who have a criminal record. Why would you want to keep criminals here?

  • magyart

    ICE finally admitted to Arlington, it can’t opt out. Yea !

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