Alexandria sheriff changes policy on working with ICE

Virginia

With the help of immigrants rights group, Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne has crafted a new policy, changing the way Alexandria Adult Detention Center works with Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE), the federal law enforcement agency which has recently come under fire for family separation.

“As long as ICE continues to act the way that they’re acting these days, local governments should not be doing a thing, should not be lifting a finger to help ICE.” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the immigrant advocacy program at the Legal Aid Justice Center — one of two organizations that worked with the sheriff.

“In recent months, Sheriff Lawhorne has been meeting with the Legal Aid Justice Center and Tenants and Workers United about these issues. He made a commitment to them last month that he would be making changes. He appreciates their input and their compassion.” said a statement issued by the sheriff’s office Tuesday.

Under the new policy, that the sheriff’s office said will be “implemented this summer,” immigrants granted pretrial release, will only be held for an additional 16 hours so ICE can pick them up. Previously, they were held for two business days. The new policy also allows an 8 hour extension for “unforeseen circumstances.”

As for immigrants who serve an actual sentence, they will be released from jail the exact date and time that sentence ends. ICE must arrange to pick them up five days prior to the end of their sentence.

In a statement, the sheriff, who declined on-camera interviews Tuesday, said the policy changes “reflect what is already occurring.” The sheriff’s office reviewed data from the past 18 months, and found on average ICE took 10 hours to pick someone up after their sentence had been completed and 18 hours on average to pick up someone in a pretrial status.

Moshenberg-Sandoval called the changes a “step in the right direction.”

As part of an agreement between the Sheriff’s Office and ICE, ICE does pay for bed space at the adult detention center “as a backup in pressing situations” — with limiting circumstances. It’s an agreement organizations like the Legal Aid Justice Center want terminated.

“We’re not talking about making Alexandria into a sanctuary city. We’re just talking about having Alexandria be essentially neutral in the immigration issue by not doing anything to actively assist ICE.” said Sandoval-Moshenberg.

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