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by Chris Teale September 6, 2017 at 12:00 pm 0

The Arlington Republican Party is criticizing the Arlington County Board for issuing a statement condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented immigrants.

The County Board joined other local and statewide elected officials in condemning Trump’s decision.

Members called the decision an “act of cruelty” that will “will tear apart families, cause substantial economic damage to our nation and further divide Americans.”

But in a statement of his own on Wednesday morning, Arlington GOP chair Jim Presswood said the Board’s criticism was “misguided” and that it is up to Congress to pass immigration reform legislation.

Presswood also said he is “optimistic” that young people, known as Dreamers, can stay in the United States.

Presswood said:

The Arlington County Board’s criticism of President Trump’s decision to phase out the DACA program is misguided.  The Board said in its statement released yesterday that the decision was an act of cruelty that will tear apart families.

The president, however, only passed the decision on the DACA issues back to Congress, where it rightfully belongs.  President Obama clearly overstepped his authority when he created the program in 2012 without any rational connection to a law enacted by Congress.  Congress, not the president, is the branch of government that should be making law.

Congressional Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan and Northern Virginia Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, support comprehensive immigration reform on issues related to DACA, border security, and enforcement.  Speaker Ryan said that he wants a permanent legislative solution for these issues “that includes ensuring that those who have done nothing wrong can still contribute as a valued part of this great country.”

I’m optimistic a solution will be quickly found that enables these young people to stay in our country.  It’s the right thing to do.

by ARLnow.com September 5, 2017 at 5:45 pm 0

The Arlington County Board has joined other local elected officials in criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for undocumented immigrants.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon (below), the County Board called the decision an “act of cruelty” that will “will tear apart families, cause substantial economic damage to our nation and further divide Americans.”

We are gravely disappointed with President Trump’s decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), the program that has given hope to some 800,000 Dreamers by protecting them from deportation and allowing them to more fully integrate into our country — their country.

The young people protected under DACA have gone to school, saluted our flag and served in our armed services. Many never knew they were not citizens until they looked for a job or applied to college. They have made many contributions to our nation. Arlington’s own DACA recipients have been an integral part of this County through their academic achievements in Arlington Public Schools and their leadership in the community.

Since 2012, DACA has allowed certain undocumented immigrants who entered the United States before the age of 16 to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and made them eligible to work. In short, it gave nearly one million young people hope.

The president’s act of cruelty will tear apart families, cause substantial economic damage to our nation and further divide Americans. Congress must now act before the March deadline to protect the Dreamers. Congress should immediately consider the American Hope Act, cosponsored by Rep. Don Beyer, who has shown real leadership on the immigration issue.

While Congress has tried and failed in the past to enact comprehensive immigration reform, permanently addressing the fate of America’s Dreamers cannot wait. Now is their opportunity to act, and they should do so immediately.

Arlington again reaffirms its commitment as a welcoming community that recognizes, respects and supports the contributions of all its members. Today, Arlington stands especially with these young people, our Dreamers and DACA recipients.

by Chris Teale September 5, 2017 at 3:45 pm 0

President Donald Trump’s decision to end a program that protected younger undocumented immigrants from deportation was sharply criticized by various Arlington leaders today.

Trump announced his administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months to give Congress time to act and find an alternative plan through legislation.

The program protects some children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents from immediate deportation, and instead allows them a renewable two-year deferral and eligibility for a work permit. It is estimated that 800,000 people who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16., also known as “Dreamers,” have been shielded from deportation by DACA.

Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church and a portion of Fairfax County, criticized the decision as an “act of malice.”

“President Trump’s decision to end DACA and begin deporting our Dreamers betrays nearly one million young people who grew up with this country as their own and made so many contributions to it,” Beyer said in a statement. “This act of malice will tear apart hundreds of thousands of American families and inflict serious economic damage on the country. Congress has no choice but to act immediately, and it should begin consideration of the American Hope Act to protect Dreamers.”

Bishop Michael Burbidge, the leader of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington since December, said in a statement he is “disheartened” by the decision to end DACA:

I join my voice with those who are disheartened by the news that President Trump will rescind DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Standing with my brother Bishops, I urge Congress and the President to enact legislation that will safeguard those currently protected by this important program.

While the issue of immigration is complicated — and our government has many considerations to balance in responding to the influx of those who seek safety, and personal and economic security in our country — offering special protection to those who only know the United States as home is a reasonable measure of compassion.

This news is undoubtedly troubling for the hundreds of thousands approved through DACA. I ask all Catholics and people of good will in the Diocese of Arlington to keep these individuals, as well as our government officials, in prayer. May we as a country be considerate of our neighbors and defend those whom we have offered protection and safe harbor.

U.S. Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Trump’s decision could have enormous economic repercussions too, and urged Congress to act quickly.

In a statement, Warner said:

The DACA program was a promise to protect certain children of undocumented immigrants, who came to this country through no fault of their own, so they could safely come out of the shadows, attain legal status and realize their full potential. Over the years, the DREAMers have shown us their true character–working hard to become this nation’s next generation of students, entrepreneurs, and military men and women.  And while Congress has a responsibility to enact comprehensive immigration reform that provides them with a fair path to citizenship, which the Senate passed in 2013, we cannot let the Trump Administration’s disgraceful anti-immigrant policies leave nearly 800,000 DREAMers in limbo. Going back on our word threatens their safety, harms our economy and speaks volumes about who we are as a country.

(more…)

by Tim Regan March 1, 2017 at 11:35 am 0

Though Arlington County welcomes people of all legal statuses, it can’t protect them from federal immigration enforcement.

That’s the gist of what Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said during a County Board meeting this week. Schwartz announced the launch of a new website aimed at answering many of the questions residents have had in the wake of recent uncertainty over immigration enforcement across the U.S.

The website, which is available in English and Spanish, includes a long list of frequently asked questions on immigration, public safety, education and community resources. County officials also launched an online resource for immigrants seeking assistance, legal aid and other services.

“I believe one of our primary responsibilities is to provide as much information and as much certainty to our residents in these very uncertain times, and we will continue to do so,” Schwartz said during the meeting.

First and foremost, the county seeks to answer several questions regarding its status as a “sanctuary jurisdiction,” Schwartz said.

“We have heard from many residents asking about our status as a sanctuary,” he said. “We have not used the term sanctuary or sanctuary city to define Arlington County. We believe that using that term could potentially mislead people into believing that Arlington County is able to shield them from immigration enforcement actions by the federal government.”

Schwartz said that the Arlington County Police Department will not act to enforce federal immigration law, and that the county doesn’t participate in a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program that gives local and state governments the power to deputize police for immigration enforcement.

“I want to reinforce that ACPD will continue our long history of community policing, working closely with our residents to reduce and prevent crime and improve the quality of live of all Arlington’s residents, all of Arlington’s visitors and businesses, regardless of their immigration status,” Schwartz said. “These policies have been central to creating the safety and security we enjoy in Arlington.”

Though ACPD officers may accompany federal agents during arrests, their role will be to “maintain the safety and security of the public,” he said. ACPD also assists in executing federal criminal warrants, though ICE primarily conducts removals outside of the criminal judicial process.

“Any ACPD involvement in ICE actions is limited to those actions where a criminal warrant exists for the apprehension of a specific individual or individuals and there is a legitimate local public safety concern,” says the county website. “ACPD will cooperate to the fullest extent with any federal, state or local law enforcement agency, including ICE, requesting assistance with executing a criminal warrant within Arlington County.”

(Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr also clarified the department’s role in a WERA interview last month.)

Additionally, Schwartz said he met with ICE officials based in the agency’s D.C. area field office, who told him they are “not doing wide immigration sweeps or immigration raids, but are focusing solely on targeted actions on specific individuals.”

Under existing ICE policy, enforcement is limited at churches, schools, medical facilities and other “sensitive” locations. Still, it would be an understatement to say Arlington residents are worried about the possibility of such actions, and with good reason. ICE agents have reportedly picked up undocumented immigrants at “sensitive” locations across the country, including at a church and homeless shelter in nearby Fairfax County.

“This is a difficult time that requires us to come together as a community to embrace our strengths of diversity and inclusion,” Schwartz said. “We ask that residents continue to work with each other to support our friends and neighbors.”

Locals who have questions or suggestions are encouraged to email the county at [email protected].

by ARLnow.com February 27, 2017 at 10:05 am 0

Early cherry blossom bloom in Pentagon City on 2/26/17 (photo courtesy Donna Gouse)

County Board Mulls Exotic Pet Ban — As expected, the Arlington County Board on Saturday voted to advertise a ban on “wild and exotic” pets in the county. Animals covered by the proposed ban “range from monkeys, wolves, raccoons and lynx to alligators, tarantulas, hedgehogs and even sugar gliders.” A hearing on the matter will be held March 18, ahead of final approval by the Board. [Arlington County]

Arlington Cultural Diversity Ranking — Arlington ranks No. 33 among “mid-sized cities” in a new list of cities with the most cultural diversity, behind places like Columbia, Maryland; Glendale, Arizona; and Cambridge, Massachusetts. [WalletHub]

Western Rosslyn Plan Moving Forward — The Arlington County Board has taken a series of actions to push its previously approved Western Rosslyn Area Plan forward. The plan includes a new home for H-B Woodlawn at the Wilson School, a new fire station, a reconfigured park and the redevelopment of several garden apartment buildings into a larger affordable housing complex. The various projects are expected to be completed by 2021. [Arlington County]

Arlington-Based Org Gets Big Grant — The Crystal City-based U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants is getting a $4.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant, announced by U.S. senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), is earmarked for “organizations working to provide unaccompanied minors who fled violence in Central America with services including temporary shelters and foster care programs.” [Sen. Tim Kaine]

County Extends HQ Lease — Arlington County has extended its lease at 2100 Clarendon Blvd for another 15 years, a move the county says will save $1.6 million annually in rent. “This is a great deal for Arlington taxpayers,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “The County will stay in this prime Courthouse location, home to County Government since 1989, at a savings of millions of dollars over the term of the extension.” [Arlington County]

Homeownership Still a Dream for Many Millennials — The Millennial generation is a major force in Arlington’s population and economy, but homeownership remains out of reach for many, including the older portion of the generation that’s getting married and having kids. Contributing to the problem: there is a significant shortage of homes for sale, particularly affordable starter homes, and the new houses that are being built are often higher-end luxury properties. [Washington Post, CNBC]

Photo courtesy Donna Gouse

by ARLnow.com February 17, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

A bike tire is all that remains of a bike parked in Shirlington (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Albino Squirrel Sighting — There has been another sighting of an albino squirrel in Arlington. Video of the snow white squirrel was posted to Arlington County’s social media accounts. [Facebook]

‘Day Without Immigrants’ Hits DoD Food Court — Yesterday’s “Day Without Immigrants” strike resulted in multiple restaurants being closed in the Pentagon food court and long lines at the restaurants that remained open. [Fox News]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by ARLnow.com February 16, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Rosslyn skyline and birds (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Restaurants Closed for ‘Day Without Immigrants’ — A number of restaurants in Arlington will be closed for the pro-immigration “Day Without Immigrants” strike. Among the expected closures: Jaleo, Busboys and Poets, Pupatella, Capitol City Brewing, Circa and Sweetgreen. [Washingtonian, Twitter, Facebook]

New Photos of Bank Robbery Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department has released additional photos of the suspect in last Friday’s Navy Federal Credit Union bank robbery in Ballston. [Twitter]

Arlington Rapist Charged in D.C. Case — Ronald Berton, who was convicted of raping a woman in Lyon Village in 2010, “has been charged with kidnapping and raping a woman in Northwest Washington in 2007, according to police and court documents.” Berton is only serving 10 years in prison for his Arlington rape conviction, after the initial conviction was overturned and he was retried for the crime. [Washington Post]

Resolution Commending Wardian — A joint resolution in the Virginia General Assembly commends superhuman Arlington marathoner Michael Wardian for his World Marathon Challenge record, which he set last month. [Virginia Legislative Information System]

Facilities Committee Goes on a Ride — Last Saturday morning, Arlington officials and the county’s Joint Facilities Advisory Committee boarded an ART bus and went on a tour of sites that “could help the County Government and Arlington Public Schools resolve pressing capital facilities needs.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: More Potomac Paddling — “The National Park Service said it plans to expand public access for kayaking and rowing on the Potomac River in the District of Columbia’s Georgetown neighborhood,” according to the Associated Press. “The agency said in a statement this week it has approved a plan for the phased development of 42,000 square feet of facilities near the confluence of Rock Creek, the Potomac River and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park.” [WTOP]

Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman

by ARLnow.com February 1, 2017 at 9:00 am 0

Birds and a plane (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Changes for Former Department Store? — The future of the former Kann’s department store on Fairfax Drive, which later became a law school and then became part of George Mason University, is being discussed by GMU and county officials. An earlier plan to raze the aging building and construct a new one fell through. [InsideNova]

Mentors Honored at County Board — A pair of “Connect with Kids Champions” were honored for their mentorship work with Arlington youth at Tuesday’s County Board meeting. [Arlington County]

Va. Joining Immigration Lawsuit — Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced yesterday that Virginia plans to join a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration. “You’ve made Virginia proud today,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) in response to the announcement. [Virginian-Pilot, Twitter]

House Hunters Home for Sale — A townhouse in Nauck that was previously featured on the HGTV show “House Hunters” is back on the market. The home at 2553 Kenmore Court, in the Shirlington Crescent community, is listed at $824,900. The couple featured on the show, TV news producers Allison and David Gracey, bought the home in 2010 for $672,781, records show. [Zillow]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by ARLnow.com January 30, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Snow on tree branches 1/30/17

Va. Officials on Immigration Order — President Donald Trump’s executive order barring those from seven Muslim nations from entering the U.S. has caught the ire of Arlington’s Democratic congressional representatives and state officials. Sen. Tim Kaine said that he was “appalled by the cruelty” of the order, Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner have “demanded answers” from the Dept. of Homeland Security, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is “outraged and disappointed,” and Rep. Don Beyer joined four other local congressmen at Dulles International Airport to try to speak to Customs and Border Protection officials who were detaining a number of travelers.

County Board Changes Airbnb Regs — Renters will now no longer be barred by the county from renting their home on Airbnb and other online services. The Arlington County Board approved the change to their recent-passed ordinance unanimously at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]

Bill: No Food = No Liquor — A bill that has passed the Virginia state senate would prohibit restaurants from serving liquor while the kitchen is closed and no longer serving food. The bill clarifies a 1971 law that was intended to do the same but was “interpreted liberally by some.” [Style Weekly]

County Acquires Land for Fire Station Project — The Arlington County Board has approved the $800,000 purchase of a home on N. Culpeper Street for the construction of a new, expanded Fire Station No. 8. The property is the final acquisition necessary to build a temporary fire station for use while the new station is constructed. [Arlington County]

by Katie Pyzyk December 30, 2016 at 10:00 am 0

Beyer event graphic

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is inviting the public to join him in an evening of open discussion at an event he has dubbed “The Road Ahead.”

Beyer says many Arlington residents have contacted his office recently to voice concerns and to inquire about working to “bridge the great divisions that exist in our rich and complex country.”

Issues on the agenda for discussion include health care, immigration, climate change, gun safety, civil rights, and America’s role in the world, among others.

The event will take place at Wakefield High School (1325 S. Dinwiddie Street) on Monday, January 16, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. The event is free and those interested in attending may register online.

by ARLnow.com December 7, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

"Safe space" sign on house in Penrose

New LED Crossing Guard Signs — VDOT is giving Arlington County a $880 grant that will allow it to purchase four new LED-illuminated paddle signs for crossing guards. The new signs will show “‘slow’ on one side and ‘stop’ on the other… when illuminated, they are visible up to one mile away.” The County Board is expected to accept the grant at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]

County Board to Make Car-Sharing Permanent — On Saturday the Arlington County Board is expected to vote to make car-sharing systems permanent in county code. Earlier this year the Board authorized trips between Arlington and D.C. for car-share provider Car2Go. The move has significantly boosted Car2Go’s usage in Arlington. [UrbanTurf]

Discovery Elementary’s Net Zero Goal — Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy recently toured Arlington’s new Discovery Elementary school. The school was built to be a Net Zero Energy building, meaning that it produces more energy than it uses. The school’s solar panel array cost $1.5 million but is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years. [WJLA]

Man Sentenced for Sneaking Into U.S., Again — A Guatemalan man who has a colorful history of sneaking into the U.S., being deported, and trying to come back again, has been sentenced to jail time. Juan Abel Belteton-Barrios, 46, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release. [Patch]

Why East Falls Church? — GGW has a primer on his history and geography of the various Northern Virginia locales with “Falls Church” in the name or postal address, including Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood. [Greater Greater Washington]

by ARLnow.com November 10, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

It’s probably safe to say that “shock and horror” was the predominant reaction among local Democrats to Donald Trump’s surprise victory in Tuesday’s presidential election.

In Arlington, only 17 percent of those casting ballots voted for Trump, while 76 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. Early on, as the results just started coming in, some officials we spoke to at the Democratic victory party in Clarendon refused to even concede that there was even a possibility that Trump could be elected.

Both the surprise over the result and the fear over what a Trump presidency means for Arlington and the nation was on display at Wednesday’s Arlington County Board meeting. Each Board member weighed in with their thoughts on the election. (See video, above.)

Here’s a bit of what Christian Dorsey had to say:

The outcome of this Presidential election was not what I desired, nor what I ever thought possible. This morning, my wife Rachel and I had to tell our budding feminist, 8-year-old daughter, who just a couple of weeks ago dressed as a suffragette for Halloween and explain to her that our candidate lost. That was hard. But harder still was finding answers to her very natural follow up questions, why, how? But I have to tell you that hardest of all, were finding words of reassurance to an outcome that in my opinion has dramatic consequences for our country. I hope to be proven wrong. Tens of millions of Americans, 20,000 Arlingtonians, and for all I know, perhaps some of you in this room chose Mr. Trump. I won’t try to believe it, but I will try to accept it.

County Board Chair Libby Garvey said a Trump presidency will not change the nature of the Arlington community.

At this point, I know we need to not give into fear, we need to not give into anger, we need to not assume that we know why everybody voted the way they did. And we need to continue what we have been doing here. This is a beautiful, wonderful community and we will do everything we can to preserve it and I am hopeful that we can. The rule of law and the rule of our constitution must prevail.

Jay Fisette said he was trying his best to cope with the results and give the new president a chance.

Yesterday was likely the most consequential election in my lifetime, for our country, to our world, to our understanding of democracy, the economy and our environment. Earlier today, I watched Hillary Clinton’s poignant and gracious concession speech and I actually took to heart her advice.

Number one, to respect the orderly transition of power that which is fundamental of our constitutional democracy. Two, to work with ourselves to open our minds and give our President Elect a chance to lead. And three, to continue to believe in our vision, in our values for the community, for the country.

In each of these, the first is easy for me. Everyone must and will come together to respect and accept the election results, as that is how we work, via the example that was set by our very first president, George Washington. So congratulations, Mr. Trump.

The second will be harder for some, like me, to open my mind and give our President Elect a chance to lead, yet we must do that. After we each finish our own grieving, those that supported Mrs. Clinton, and our assessment of what happened and why it happened, we must give the President a chance.

Independent John Vihstadt, the lone non-Democrat on the Board, said he was disappointed by the slate of presidential candidates this year.

Regardless of our political perspective, everyone in the nation and across the globe is still processing the remarkable outcome of yesterday’s election. Many are jubilant, others are apprehensive, or even fearful, and many others no doubt are conflicted. In my view, all four party nominees on the Virginia ballot for President this year fell short of what our nation deserved and needed in 2016. I voted, but did not vote for any of them. Still, the American people have spoken.

I am confident that our democratic institution will heal and endure, and I hope and pray, that people of goodwill will come together, lower our voices, and work together to find common ground to advance the human condition.

I’m reminded of the statement chiseled in stone above the main door to the state capitol of my home state of Nebraska, “the salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.”

Katie Cristol said Arlington County would “navigate the coming days as we have other major economic and political events in the past” thanks to residents, county staff and prudent planning.

Cristol said the county would continue to respect the rights of immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, in the face of Trump’s deportation promises.

I want to take this opportunity to reaffirm what has been a hallmark of Arlington County: inclusion and protection of our diversity and of our residents. I want to reaffirm that my commitment to the safety of our immigrant neighbors, emphasizing as this board did in 2016 that all residents and visitors to Arlington County have a right to public safety protection. That it is our longstanding policy that Arlington County law enforcement does not monitor, detain, interview or investigate people solely for the purpose of determining their integration status, and that the services we provide in Arlington County, including education, public transit, access to our parks and to our libraries are not restricted based on immigration status.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com September 7, 2016 at 9:00 am 0

Aerial view of Arlington (photo courtesy of James Mahony)

Permanent Bathrooms Coming to Iwo Jima Memorial — Congress has approved a bill to add permanent bathrooms to the Marine Corps War Memorial near Rosslyn. The bathrooms will replace the current porta-potties and will be accessible to those with disabilities, including wounded veterans. The cost of the project will be paid for by philanthropist David Rubenstein. [WUSA 9]

Arlington 9/11 5K Registration Closing — Online registration for the 15th annual Arlington Police, Fire and Sheriff 9/11 Memorial 5K is closing at 10 a.m. this morning. The race will take place Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. [Zippyreg]

Remembering 9/11 in Arlington — Arlington County is holding events in remembrance of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. Tomorrow, Sept. 8, the county’s Emergency Preparedness Advisory Commission is holding a public event reflecting on the response to the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, moderated by NBC 4’s Doug Kammerer. On Sept. 11 this year, the county will hold its annual wreath-laying ceremony at Courthouse Plaza. [Arlington County]

Police Car Involved in Crash — An Arlington County Police cruiser and an SUV collided yesterday afternoon while the police officer was responding to a call. The crash happened near the intersection of Walter Reed Drive and S. Arlington Mill Drive, roughly between Shirlington and Wakefield High School. No injuries were reported. [Twitter]

Arlington Not a ‘Sanctuary City’ — Does GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on “sanctuary cities” put Arlington in danger? Probably not, county officials say, because Arlington is not a sanctuary city. “It is, and has always been, Arlington County’s policy to comply with requests from all other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies including detainer requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” the county said. [NBC 4]

Photo courtesy James Mahony

by ARLnow.com September 2, 2016 at 9:15 am 0

Clouds and rays of sunlight above Claremont Immersion School (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Rainy Weekend, Maybe — Hurricane Hermine, which is now a tropical storm after making landfall in Florida, is expected to make its way up the coast and bring rain to the Mid-Atlantic region Saturday and Sunday. The exact track of the storm is still in question, thus it’s unclear just how much rain the D.C. area will get. [Capital Weather Gang, Twitter]

Big Immigration Court Delays — A federal immigration court in Crystal City has such a heavy caseload that some hearings are scheduled all the way out to 2024. [Fox 5]

Arlington Native Serving on USS Arlington — Wakefield High School grad Joseph Reed is serving as a fire controlman aboard the USS Arlington, the U.S. Navy ship named after his hometown. [Navy Office of Community Outreach]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

by Andrew Ramonas June 22, 2016 at 11:00 am 0

Christian Dorsey at Arlington County Board meetingUndocumented immigrants looking for driver’s licenses have found advocates in the Arlington County Board.

The Board yesterday voted 4-0, with one abstention, in favor of a resolution to include its support for undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses among the county’s slate of state legislative priorities next year. Virginia doesn’t allow licenses for undocumented immigrants, but D.C. and Maryland do.

Board Member Christian Dorsey, who supported the legislation, said he doesn’t see any advantage in not allowing all immigrants to obtain a license. He noted that license-holding undocumented immigrants could secure car insurance and commute to jobs more easily, among other benefits.

“We do have a broken federal immigration system that needs to be fixed,” Dorsey said. “But you know what? We also have people who are a byproduct of that system, who are living in Arlington and who want to do the right thing and fully engage in our community.”

Board Member John Vihstadt, who abstained from voting, said he joins his colleagues in supporting immigrants. But Vihstadt said he couldn’t vote in favor of the resolution.

“There may be countervailing concerns, including national security and administrative issues,” Vihstadt said.

Lizzette Arias, interim president for immigrant advocacy group Dreamers of Virginia, said in a statement after the vote that the Board took a “responsible stand” on the matter.

“The undocumented community in Virginia desperately needs access to driver’s licenses,” she said. “For many driving is not a luxurious privilege but a necessity.”

Meanwhile, citing fears among the local immigrant community, the County Board also acted to reassure immigrants of “its commitment as a welcoming community that recognizes, respects and supports the contributions of all of its members.”

From an Arlington County press release:

The Board reaffirmed the long-standing County law enforcement “policy against racial profiling which prohibits our deputies and officers from taking action based solely on that individual’s race, ethnicity or national origin.” And noted that “a person’s right to file a police report, participate in police-community activities, or otherwise benefit from police services is not contingent upon citizenship or immigration status.”

In a statement read by Board Member Katie Cristol, the Board said it was responding to “increased anxiety, fear and panic among our region’s immigrant community,” which the Board attributed to “a number of factors, including federal immigration enforcement actions currently being conducted around the country, as well as the more recent national debate sparked by the 2016 Presidential Election cycle and the United States Supreme Court’s review of the Obama Administration’s Executive Actions on immigration.”

“Arlington County always has and always will be a caring and inclusive community that strives to provide a safe and secure environment where all of our residents have the ability to achieve their potential and live out their dreams,” Cristol said.  “I was disheartened to hear of the concerns in our immigrant community and my colleagues and I wanted to make certain we restated our strong and unequivocal commitment to all of our residents.”

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