Arlington Declines To “Opt-Out” of ICE Database

by ARLnow.com November 5, 2010 at 5:53 pm 4,688 24 Comments

Arlington officials were given two options for opting out of the Secure Communities immigration enforcement program today, neither of which they liked.

Arlington County Manager Barbara Donnellan, Police Chief Doug Scott and Sheriff Beth Arthur met with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to find out how communities can withdraw from the program, which has drawn fire from immigrant rights advocates.

The meeting followed the county board’s unanimous September vote to opt-out of Secure Communities, and statements to the press from ICE Director John Morton, saying such a withdrawal was impossible.

The meeting seemed to add weight to Morton’s assertion.

“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,” Donnellan wrote in a memo to county board members following the meeting.

“ICE stated that Secure Communities is a federal information-sharing program — which links two federal fingerprint databases,” Donnellan wrote. “The program does not require state and local law enforcement to partner with ICE in enforcing federal law. State and local law enforcement do not have any role in enforcing immigration law.”

The agency gave Arlington two options for opting out of the program. The first option was to opt-out of receiving the results of ICE’s database inquiry.

That “would result in Arlington law enforcement not receiving information that could be crucial to effective law enforcement, such as the arrestee’s identity, known aliases, and criminal history,” Donnellan wrote, rejecting the option.

The second option would be to prevent fingerprints from being submitted to the joint FBI/ICE databases. That’s not possible under Virginia law, which requires localities to submit fingerprints to Virginia State Police, which in turn check the prints against the national database.

Besides, Donnellan writes, “the County has never and will not consider this because utilizing the national criminal database is a public safety necessity to help us identify dangerous criminals.”

As for what the county will do next, Donnellan mentioned the possibility of holding a community meeting with ICE officials. Other than that, the question was left open-ended.

“ICE agreed to continue the dialogue with us and we look forward to working them to develop solutions that will enable federal authorities and local public safety officers to fulfill their respective missions without forsaking either,” she wrote.

  • TGEoA

    This is that progressive governmen that Zimmie likes to brag about.

    He’s a tard.

    • Doug


  • Lou

    I just have to wonder if they consulted with the County Attorney when they wrote up that resolution back in September? I don’t see how he could have let them be so wrong in how they perceived their participation in the program.

  • roger estes

    Let’s be clear on this issue. The Arlington County Board, the Police Chief, and the Arlington Sheriff ALL want to make it so that Arlington County Police/Sheriff do not send the fingerprints of criminal suspects who have been arrested and who are foreign born. What the HELL is right about that?!!!

    • Zoning Victim

      Rodger, that’s not what they said at all. I’ll preface the rest of my comments with the fact that I’m happy that Arlington County can’t opt-out of the program. That said, I think you misread the article. Arlington County never proposed not sending the prints to the FBI; they simply thought that they could opt-out of having to run a suspect’s fingerprints through the ICE database to see if the suspect is in the country illegally. That’s just not possible because the Fed will not do that (and rightfully so in my opinion). It was never a consideration for Arlington County (as stated in the article above) not to send prints of suspects that have been arrested to the FBI, not only because of Virginia law, but because no enforcement officer/agency in their right mind would release someone they have arrested without running their fingerprints. If any enforcement agency did refuse to check prints against the FBI’s database, they could never positively identify someone and would run the risk of releasing a suspect picked up for a petty crime that was also wanted for something like rape or murder in another state.

      I really do not understand why any County or anyone would want to allow people to live here illegally, so I don’t get the Arlington County Board’s position on not wanting to be able to identify these people in the first place. However, we all know the opinion of what to do with illegal aliens varies from person to person. The bottom line right now is that if your documentation is not in order then you are here illegally and the answer for that at the moment is to deport them until they can get their paperwork in order unless they can prove that they need asylum.

      • LawAbider

        It’s all about Tejada protecting his own people and the other board members kissing up to him for some reason. This board is a joke and is wasting tax payers money and can’t beive Zimmerman was voted back in to office. Speaking of a joke, I see a lot of people fell for the bonds up for vote, the wording specifically said “and other money” well my friends that means more of your tax money (not specified) and lets not forget bonds have to be paid back.

  • Shannon

    I’m with Roger!! I can not even believe that they would consider this and what the hell are they thinking??????? This shows me that they do not have the best interests of Arlington County citizens or their safety. So what’s in it for them to want to pursue and implement this???

    • LawAbider

      Like I said, it’s all about Tejada.

      • LawAbider

        I forgot to add “illegals” with my reply.

  • tuesdayschild

    Walter Tejada and the entire county board should apologize to taxpayers for wasting time and money on this issue.

  • Jaun

    i will not apologize to the whiteys!!!!

    • Doug

      Way to go Jaun….. show us more of your smarts or lack thereof.

  • Backasswards

    I hope I’m not the only one that finds this whole ordeal embarrassing to the county and it’s residents. I cannot fathom how Tejada & Co. can argue with the extreme notion that people who are living in our community illegally and behaving unlawfully should be considered (just considered) for deportation? It’s common sense and necessary for our country to be intolerable of certain behaviors. We’re not talking about traffic violations – we’re talking about violent crimes and gang related crimes. The worst of the worst. If you come into this country illegally, and break our laws in a big way, we’ll truck your behind straight back to wherever it is you came from. Explaining the logic behind this is like trying to explain why two plus two equals four. Tejada & Co. argue that Arlington should opt out because “immigrants in Arlington have expressed hesitance to report crimes for fear of having their immigration status checked.” Obviously, Tejada understands that nobody who calls to report a violent gang related crime is going to get deported. But instead of making a public campaign to explain this new program to the immigrant community (which might even be seen as a gesture of trust building) he allows this fear of deportation to fester in the minds of our illegal residents, trumps up his opposition to Secure Communities, wins cheers from lefties who dislike Arizona and immigrants that are fearful and sails his political ship onward.

    • Doug

      Very well said.

    • tuesdayschild

      Excellent comment!

    • ian l

      Good comment, I don’t see why allowing people who break the law to come here and then further break more laws should be a part of the community. I would like to hear the opinions of people who have been victimized by illegal immigrants who have repeatedly broken the law, where is the justice in allowing someone to stay in this country while hurting law abiding citizens?

  • Kalashnikev

    What is this doublespeak? Prevent law enforcement officials from accessing useful information that can be used… while not enforcing the law?

    The whole concept of “Opt-Out” is so ridiculous it can only be put in quotation marks.

    I would like to “Opt-Out” of the Dog Resort and Trolley to the Ghetto. I can’t believe we have to endure another year of this insanity… not that one Republican on the board could change much.

  • magyart

    Any county official not supportive of Secure Communities, should be voted out of office. I can’t wit until it’s FULLY operational, in every county, nation wide.

  • steve

    Barbara Donnellan was hired (unqualified) to say and do things with out thinking. That’s why the Board “fired” Brown. This Board thinks they can do anything they want; including not following U.S. laws. It’s the citizens of Arlington that are to blame. They “elect” the Board members to “life-terms”. If the citizens were allowed to vote thru districting it would end this.

    • Just the Facts

      Ugh. I don’t know which is more annoying: complaining about the (overwhelming) outcome of legal and fair elections or the canard that districts would somehow change the result of Board elections.

      In this most recent election, held amid the strongest anti-Democratic sentiment in recent times, the incumbent Democrat won 48 of 51 precincts and Crystal City was a virtual tie. That means, effectively, that only 2 of 51 precincts voted for his opponent. Where is this mythical “district” that would so dramatically change the make-up of the County Board?

      Here’s the reality: Arlington is an overwhelmingly progressive/liberal (use whatever label you want) community that is overwhelmingly satisfied with the work of the County Board in recent years. How much more evidence does one need than annual elections that regularly result in dominating wins for liberal Democrats and this year’s embarassingly dismal failure of an effort to gain support for a change in government?

      I can’t understand why those who are so angry and so unhappy with Arlington’s government stick around when they have dozens of communities to choose from in Virginia that are more in line with the style of government they apparently want. This isn’t a “love it or leave it” comment but simply a musing on why you choose to live somewhere that makes you so mad…

      • MB22204

        Thank you, Just the Facts. I don’t know why I bother to read these comments (rants more like it). Your comment makes a lot of sense.

        • to just

          the point, I think, was that many members of the board live in the same area or “district”, therefore, they would be giving up that seat.

  • Confucius Kitchen

    You don’t make anything better by adding illegal aliens to it, do you?

  • LPS4DL

    Lots of confused and ugly comments above, and all due to the poor coverage of this topic by Arl Now and the Sun Gazette. The county thought they could opt out of this program because the FEDS originally said they could. Turns out it was a misunderstanding. Our county government is legitimate and quite capable and would not have voted to opt out if that was not a possibility. You owe it to your readers, especially the unwashed bunch above, to do your homework, hold back on reporting until you have the full story, and stop taking cheap shots at our elected government.


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