I-66 Public Hearing at W-L — VDOT is holding a public hearing on the changes planned for I-66 tonight. The hearing is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. at Washington-Lee High School’s cafeteria. Meanwhile, one letter-writer is decrying the “whining” from Arlington residents who complain about the proposed partial widening of I-66 while using it to make a reverse commute to Fairfax County — and the protestations from Arlington policymakers who are more than happy to have large employers come to Ballston and other dense neighborhoods along I-66, thus increasing traffic on the highway. [VDOT, Washington Post]
Wakefield, Yorktown Victorious in Key Games — The Wakefield boys basketball squad defeated Deep Run 50-48 on Saturday to advance to the semifinals of the 5A state basketball tournament. This will be the Warriors’ third semifinal appearance in four seasons. Yorktown’s hockey team, meanwhile, defeated Washington-Lee 5-3 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Friday night. [InsideNova, Twitter]
Abingdon Elementary Design Approved — On Thursday the Arlington School Board approved a final design for an addition and renovation to Abingdon Elementary School in Fairlington. The project will add 12 classrooms and 136 seats to the school, while renovating the gym, kitchen and media space. [Arlington Public Schools]
Retired Fire Officials Speak Out Against Station Move — Two retired Arlington County Fire Department officials say a proposed relocation of Fire Station 8 from Lee Highway to a county-owned location farther north does not make practical sense and would mostly benefit residents of Fairfax County. Residents around the current fire station and around its proposed new location have been protesting the planned move. [InsideNova]
Arlington Complying With Immigration Detainers — Arlington County law enforcement is complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for jail inmates, but only if ICE reimburses the county for certain expenses and picks up the inmate within 48 hours. Fearing that some jurisdictions are not complying with federal detainers, Republicans in the Virginia General Assembly have proposed bills to make such requests mandatory. [Washington Post]
County Board to Meet With Commission Chairs — The Arlington County Board tonight is holding a meeting with the chairmen of the county’s advisory commissions. ARLnow.com hears that the Board has received complaints about certain commissions overstepping their bounds or operating inefficiently. The meeting will address diversity in commission membership, training for commission members and potential improvements to commission communication and community outreach. [Arlington County]
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids have local undocumented immigrant families on edge, fearful to send their kids to school, according to an email sent to parents by Arlington Public Schools.
In the email, Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy says he’s “concerned” about reports of raids targeting adults and children who have recently fled Central America. Murphy says APS strives to provide a welcoming learning environment for all students.
“In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools may not deny access to any child, whether present in the United States legally or otherwise,” Murphy writes. “More recently in May 2014, the Secretary of Education and Attorney General reaffirmed this ruling and provided guidance to all public school leaders to ensure public school access for all children, regardless of their immigration status.”
“I want to reassure all of our families that children in our care will be safe,” said Murphy. The full email is below.
Dear APS Families and Staff,
I have been concerned by recent news reports about raids to deport adults and children who have fled violence in Central America and recently migrated to the United States. Because of these actions by members of the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, Arlington Public Schools’ (APS) teachers, administrators and Board members have heard reports that some families in our community are fearful to send their children to school. I want to reassure all of our families that children in our care will be safe.
APS is committed to providing an excellent public education to every school-aged student residing in Arlington County. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools may not deny access to any child, whether present in the United States legally or otherwise. More recently in May 2014, the Secretary of Education and Attorney General reaffirmed this ruling and provided guidance to all public school leaders to ensure public school access for all children, regardless of their immigration status.
As educators, the staff of Arlington Public Schools has always acknowledged our legal and, more importantly, our moral obligations to provide an education to all students who live in our community. The School Board’s Vision statement reaffirms our commitment to all children by affirming that we are, “a diverse and inclusive school community, committed to academic excellence and integrity. We provide instruction in a caring, safe and healthy learning environment, responsive to each student, in collaboration with families and the community.” In addition, the School Board has adopted as one of our Core Values to “value all students, staff and families in our diverse, inclusive school community.”
All of us are deeply committed to providing instruction in a caring, safe and healthy learning environment that is responsive to each student.
We believe that the diversity of Arlington County is one of our community’s most significant assets, and we value and will continue to support all of our students and families.
Dr. Patrick K. Murphy
Arlington Public Schools
Pentagon City Apartment Complex Gets Financing — The Altaire, the high-end residential development at 400 Army Navy Drive, has obtained $100 million in financing from Wells Fargo and is expected to begin construction this month. The 20-story complex will have two towers with a total of 453 units. Construction is expected to be complete by the second quarter of 2018. [Washington Business Journal]
History of Hall’s Hill — This year is the 150th anniversary of the historically African-American neighborhood of Hall’s Hill, also known as High View Park. An event on the community’s history last week revealed the origin of its name. Hall’s Hill is named after Bazil Hall, a white slaveholder who sold plots of land to freed slaves after the Civil War to spite his white neighbors. [InsideNova]
Arlington Real Estate Agent Invited to SOTU — Naveed Shah, an Army veteran and a Rosslyn-based real estate agent, was invited to be a guest of the White House at tonight’s State of the Union Address. Despite the fact that Shah and his family moved to the U.S. when he was two, after living in Saudi Arabia, Shah grew up in Northern Virginia and describes himself as “as American as it gets.” [Military Times, NBC Washington]
Local Immigrants Worried About ICE Raids — There’s growing fear among undocumented immigrants in Northern Virginia of stepped-up U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Advocates are advising immigrant families “to have a plan for their kids in case they’re deported.” In other news, it’s said that ICE agents “are making their presence felt and regularly hang around the Taco Bell on Little River Turnpike” in Annandale. [Annandale VA]
Arlington Young Dems, GOPers Working Together — In a show of bipartisanship during the heat of a presidential election year, the chairs of the Arlington Young Democrats and the Arlington-Falls Church Young Republicans met over the weekend to plan joint community service events in 2016. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Tom Gjelten’s latest book A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story considers the impact of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.
Gjelten will be at the Arlington Central Library auditorium at 1015 N. Quincy Street from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. for a conversation on immigration and book signing.
The book uses demographic and political issues in addition to personal stories to analyze this topic. The stories used are those of families in Fairfax County, including the family of Delegate Mark Keam. He will also be at the event as a special guest and contributor to the conversation.
Copies of the book will also be on sale from One More Page Books, and 10 percent of all sales will benefit the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.
The book talk is free and open to the public. Interested guests do not have to register in advance.
Photo via Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
About 20-30 protesters are on the march from Courthouse to Georgetown to the White House this morning.
The “March for Immigrant Families and an End to Deportations” started outside the Arlington County government building in Courthouse and as of 9:30 a.m. was at Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd in the center of Rosslyn.
Demonstrators will cross the Key Bridge into Georgetown, before making their way to the White House. From the Washington Peace Center website:
Come walk from Arlington Virginia to the White House in recognition of the one-year anniversary of President Obama’s announcement concerning Immigration Relief (DAPA, DACA extended). With the recent 5th Circuit decision to keep both programs blocked, it is imperative that we demonstrate the urgent need for relief for millions of immigrant families including those with US citizen children, all of whom continue to live in fear of deportation.
Press Conference at the White House: Marchers will hold a press conference at 11:30 A.M. in front of the White House.
Immigrant Group Launches Get-Out-the-Vote Campaign — The immigrant rights group CASA Virginia launched a new get-out-the-vote campaign aimed at women yesterday. “It’s time we raise the minimum wage and improve child care,” said a CASA representative, at a press conference yesterday held at the Arlington courthouse plaza. County Board chair Mary Hynes and vice-chair Walter Tejada were at the press conference and issued a proclamation calling on residents to support the campaign. [Washington Post]
Longer Parking Meter Hours Still on Hold — A plan to extend the hours of parking meters in Arlington from 6 to 8 p.m. is still on hold due to “a backlash from the public and business leaders.” Said acting County Manager Mark Schwartz: “It needs more work.” [InsideNova]
Albino Squirrel Spotted in Arlington — An all-white squirrel has been spotted in a North Arlington neighborhood. Such albino squirrels are “extremely rare” but have been spotted in Arlington before. [Washington Post]
Firefighters Endorse Dorsey — Arlington County Board candidate Christian Dorsey has picked up the endorsement of the Arlington Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association. The firefighters previously endorsed Dorsey’s Democratic ticketmate Katie Cristol. [InsideNova]
Sandra Bullock Remembers W-L Cheerleader Days — Oscar-winning actress and Arlington native Sandra Bullock says her Washington-Lee High School cheerleading uniform still fits like a glove. “That might come in handy some sexy night. I don’t know who I’m saving it for,” she told Glamour magazine. [Daily Mail]
ICE Detainer for Sexual Assault Suspect — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has placed a detainer on Melvin Bonilla, the suspect in a string of sexual assaults in Arlington. Bonilla was arrested by Arlington County Police yesterday morning. [Fox 5]
Opposition to Homeless Shelter Winds Down — With Arlington’s new Homeless Services Center now open across from police headquarters in Courthouse, nearby residents are apparently starting to acquiesce to their new neighbor. Reports “Our Man in Arlington” columnist Charlie Clark: “Many neighbors in condos alongside the Courthouse building at 2020 N. 14th St. have rethought their opposition.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Lockdown Drills for Pre-K Students — An Arlington Pre-K teacher reflects on having her students participate in lockdown drills, which would be used in the event of an active shooting situation. The drills are now routine in Arlington elementary schools, the teacher says. [Washington Post]
Library Launches Sci-Fi Book Club — Arlington Public Library has launched “Strange Lands,” a science fiction book club that will meet monthly at Java Shack in Courthouse, starting Oct. 21. [Arlington Public Library]
VOICE Launches Voter Outreach Effort — The pro-affordable housing group Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement, or VOICE, is launching a voter outreach effort this fall. VOICE plans to concentrate turnout efforts on two low-turnout precincts: Arlington Mill and Glebe. [InsideNova]
Fire at Columbia Pike Gas Station — A small fire, reportedly started by an acetylene torch, prompted a large fire department response at the Citgo gas station on Columbia Pike yesterday morning. The fire was quickly extinguished. [Twitter]
Bills Proposed to Scuttle Immigration Office — Three Republicans are sponsoring legislation in the House of Representatives that would block the Obama administration from opening a new immigration office in Crystal City. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office could bring some 1,000 jobs to the area, but Republicans worry that it may eventually be intended to process cases of what they term Obama’s “executive amnesty” program. [Washington Business Journal, Breitbart]
Arlington Housing Cools a Bit — Arlington’s hot real estate market cooled a bit in May, according to recently released housing sales data. The volume of sales was down 10 percent in May while the median selling price held steady. [Washington Business Journal]
Association Moving to Crystal City — The Aluminum Association, a trade group, is moving into a new headquarters in Crystal City this week. The association is moving into the refurbished, LEED Gold certified office building at 1400 Crystal Drive. [Associations Now]
Flickr pool photo by Alves Family
Car2Go Coming to Arlington — Arlington County is giving the car sharing service Car2Go a try. The county will allow up to 200 Car2Go vehicles on the streets, in metered parking spots, as part of a one year pilot program. Car2Go will pay the county for use of metered spaces. [UrbanTurf, WTOP]
‘Jen’s Kitchen’ Now Open in Va. Square — “Jen’s Kitchen” has reportedly opened in Virginia Square, replacing the former Metro Cafe and Gourmet at 901 N. Nelson Street. [Twitter]
Texas Questioning New Office in Arlington — Senate Republicans and the Texas Attorney General’s office are asking the Obama administration for more information about an immigration services facility that’s bringing hundreds of jobs to Crystal City. The office was originally intended to help with processing related to Obama’s executive action on immigration, which is currently on hold due to legal challenges. [Breitbart]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington Scores Lidl HQ — Arlington County will be the home of the new $77 million U.S. corporate headquarters of Lidl, a discount German grocery chain that’s seeking to expand in the United States. The headquarters is expected to create 500 new jobs in Arlington and will anchor the National Gateway office development near Potomac Yard. “Lidl chose Arlington for its U.S. corporate headquarters because of our commitment to diversifying our economy, a terrific workforce, regional transit connections and access to a major airport,” Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes said in a statement. [Arlington County]
Arlington Teen Advances in Singing Competition — Kenmore Middle School student Samantha Rios, who is competing on the Telemundo singing program “La Voz Kids,” has advanced to the semifinals and is now being coached by Reggaeton musician Daddy Yankee. [Washington Post]
Young Republicans Blast Anti-Gun-Store Tactics — Opponents of a gun store that’s trying to open in Cherrydale are urging their supporters to confront the owners of the store and the shopping center in which it’s opening in person. That has Republicans crying foul. “Having exhausted reasonable avenues, the anti-gunners encourage their flock to harass property owner,” said the Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans. [Twitter]
Immigration Center to Open in Crystal City — A planned immigration services center in Crystal City, which has been delayed due to legal wrangling over President Obama’s executive action deferring the deportation of certain illegal immigrants, is now reportedly set to open soon. Hundreds of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees will be working out of the office building at 2200 Crystal Drive, processing immigration applications and petitions. [Breitbart]
Praise for ‘Alice’ Production — The Encore Stage and Studio production of “Alice in Wonderland” is garnering critical kudos for its star, Brandi Moore, a Harvard-bound Washington-Lee High School senior. The show wraps up its run this weekend at Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre at 125 S. Old Glebe Road. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Two Rescued From House Fire — Arlington County firefighters battled an early morning house fire in the Old Glebe neighborhood overnight. Two adults were rescued from the roof of the three-alarm fire. An ACFD spokesman said hoarding conditions inside the home made battling the blaze more difficult. [WUSA9, WJLA]
Two Trees Considered for ‘Specimen’ Status — The Arlington County Board will vote this weekend, then hold a public hearing, then vote again next month, to determine whether two trees should be protected with a “specimen tree” designation. [Arlington County]
Future of Arlington’s Office Market — The Arlington County Board held a work session Tuesday to discuss the future of the office market in the county. Arlington Economic Development produced a video that discusses how the office market is changing and how that pertains to local policymaking. [YouTube]
Anti-DACA Bill Defeated — A bill that would have denied in-state tuition to some immigrant students has been defeated in the Virginia state senate. Last week, Arlington’s Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) vowed to fight the bill, which was aimed at students who had been protected from deportation by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. [Virginian-Pilot]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D) knew his work trying to secure in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants wasn’t over last spring when Attorney General Mark Herring declared some “DREAMers” eligible for in-state tuition immediately.
The decision allowed children of undocumented immigrant who are legal residents because of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to receive in-state tuition if they meet other state residency requirements.
In this legislative session, there are bills in the House of Delegates and the state Senate that aim to undo Herring’s action. Lopez had previously introduced bills every year to do what Herring did in one fell swoop; now, he’s moving to block the new bills.
“We knew we’d have to defend against Tea Party attacks,” Lopez told ARLnow.com yesterday. “We assumed it would come. We hoped it wouldn’t, but now it has.”
The bills are HB1356, introduced by Loudoun County’s Del. David Ramadan (R), and SB722, introduced by Sen. Richard Black (R), also from Loudoun. Ramadan is himself an immigrant: he was born in Beirut, Lebanon, before immigrating to the United States.
Both bills declare that DACA-protected immigrants “do not have the capacity to remain in Virginia indefinitely,” and therefore are ineligible for in-state tuition. The bill applies to DACA children, those with temporary protected status — political refugees from foreign countries — and Deferred Action for Parental Accountability.
“To think that Sen. Black would want to take the refugees of civil wars and deny them an opportunity of education… that is a huge step backwards.,” Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) told ARLnow.com.
Republicans control both houses in the General Assembly, and with a 67-32-1 advantage in the House of Delegates, so Lopez knows he faces a steep climb in trying to beat the bills.
“We’ve talked to the attorney general’s office, we’ve talked to the governor’s office,” Lopez said. “We also are organizing through education and religious groups, getting them to lobby in opposition against these bills. There are many groups around the state making calls who are saying this is the wrong attack to take, not only from a fairness and a moral issue to take, but also an economic development and job growth [perspective].”
“I think we’ll either be successful and able to defeat these bills in subcommittee or there will be a heck of a fight on the floor of the Senate and the House,” Lopez continued. “Even if by some miracle these bills pass, I don’t believe the governor will sign them into law. I think he’ll veto, but I don’t know.”
Lopez said the issue impacts “my family, my friends and my neighbors,” and highlights the importance of providing in-state tuition for the state’s economic growth. Arlington residents will directly be affected, like Dayana Torres, a student at George Mason University in Fairfax who commutes to school from Arlington.
“I see being able to pay the in-state tuition rate as an essential benefit for my education that my parents and I have paid into through taxes,” Torres said in an email to ARLnow.com. She is the president of the Mason Dreamers and co-founder and former president of Dreamers of Virginia. “I affiliate with the Republican party in many key political topics, so it is always difficult for me to see Republicans in office actively trying to reverse decisions that benefit my family and I since we have been paying taxes and desperately need the in-state-tuition rates.”
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will ignore requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold people in the county jail unless such a request comes with a warrant, the county announced Friday afternoon.
The new policy, which takes effect immediately, comes four days after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) issued an opinion that ICE detainers are “merely a request.”
From an Arlington County press release:
The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will no longer hold people in custody at the County Detention Facility based solely on a request to detain by the federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unless ICE presents the Sheriff with a judicially issued warrant authorizing such detention, Sheriff Beth Arthur said today.
This change in policy is a result of a question from Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle to Attorney General Herring. In response to that question, on January 5, 2015, Attorney General Mark Herring issued an Advisory Opinion regarding the authority for law enforcement to hold a person in custody based on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detainer. Attorney General Herring stated:
“It is my opinion that an ICE detainer is merely a request. It does not create for a law enforcement agency either an obligation or legal authority to maintain custody of a prisoner who is otherwise eligible for immediate release from local or state custody.”
Arlington County Sheriff’s Office’s new policy is effective immediately.
President Obama’s announcement on Nov. 20 that he would take executive action on immigration is leading to a hiring boom in Crystal City.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration announced on Monday that it’s hiring about 1,000 full-time federal and contract workers in Crystal City to help implement the president’s executive action, which will grant temporary legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants and help highly-skilled workers stay in the U.S.
Salaries at the facility will range from $34,415 to $157,100, various news outlets reported.
That’s good news for Crystal City and its high office vacancy rate. We’re told the new workers will be based at Crystal Plaza 4, a 46-year-old office building at 2200 Crystal Drive. The federal government is backfilling a General Services Administration lease for the Vornado-owned building.
Republicans have decried the president’s action and are criticizing the new “hiring binge.”
“This facility is a clear symbol of the President’s defiance of the American people, their laws, and their Constitution,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions said, in a statement.
The estimated number of unaccompanied, juvenile immigrants in APS jumped from 10 children last school year to “approximately” 80 children this school year so far, the district said Friday.
The release of the APS data on youth age 18 and under who travelled without a parent or guardian follows a national report on unaccompanied minors issued this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That report stated that through July 31, 133 unaccompanied minors were transferred to the care of family members or other sponsors in Arlington County.
The 133 count potentially includes youth below school age, in private schools, home schooled or not enrolled in school, APS pointed out.
APS served enough young, recent immigrants in the 2013-2014 school year to be eligible for an additional $43,000 in state funding, the APS statement said. The school system saw an increase of 141 immigrant students from the ’12-’13 to ’13-’14 school year, the statement said. These youth range in age from 3 to 21, were born outside the U.S. and had not attended school in the country for more than three academic years. This category includes but is not exclusive to youth who came to the U.S. unaccompanied.
Additionally, APS has devoted additional resources this school year to students who have had little formal schooling and read below grade level in any language.
The Arlington Career Center reinstituted a previously offered “Accelerated Literacy” program that draws high school students from across the county. Two more teachers were hired, and funds were redirected to serve youth in this program, according to the statement.
Washington-Lee High School is also offering the literacy curriculum. Additional literacy support is available to elementary and middle school students, the statement said.
The county Dept. of Human Services connects youth and their sponsors with medical and behavior health care, English classes, legal aid and limited emergency funds, spokesman Kurt Larrick said. Like all new APS students, unaccompanied minors new to the district are screened for tuberculosis and required to have a set of immunizations, he added.
The HHS report noted that many of the unaccompanied youth have survived trauma.
“These children may have histories of abuse or may be seeking safety from threats of violence,” it said. “They may have been trafficked or smuggled.”
School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez said in July that APS should prepare for a “crisis situation” in providing services to unaccompanied minors. County Board member Walter Tejada said then that Arlington was preparing to serve them.
APS does not request and is not required by law to ask students to report their immigration status, the statement said.