June 25th, 2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HELP SAVE MANASSAS CALLS ON PWC BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO RESCIND SANCTUARY POLICY
MANASSAS, VA: In response to an appeal filed on behalf of Help Save Manassas by Judicial Watch, the Prince William County Police Department has released General Order 26.05 entitled "Jurisdiction and Arrest Procedures: Undocumented Immigrants" which establishes the department's policy regarding officer interactions with suspected illegal aliens. That order confirms that Prince William County is indeed a sanctuary jurisdiction for illegal aliens, despite claims by Chief Deane to the contrary.
The policy, which is available on the website of Help Save Manassas, states that "Members [police officers] will not question any person about their citizenship or immigration status, unless that person is reasonably believed to be involved in one or more of the activities identified in section D." That section lists several specific felony offenses, felony offenses in general, or persons who are wanted on an existing ICE detainer for a violent crime or felony offense. The effect of this policy is to prohibit the collection of information regarding a persons legal status in this country when they are suspected of committing anything other than a felony.
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 clearly states that a federal, state or local government entity may not prohibit or in any way restrict the transmission of information regarding the citizenship or immigration status of any individual to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. By prohibiting police officers from questioning suspects regarding their legal status, they are effectively prohibiting the transmission of this information to ICE should the police officer choose to do so as he is permitted under federal law. Paragraph B of General Order 26.05 is contrary to federal law, and as a sworn officer who has pledged to uphold the law, Chief Deane has a moral and professional obligation to rescind this policy. The Prince William County Board of Supervisors similarly is obligated to exercise their oversight powers over the police department and direct that this policy be rescinded now that they have been fully informed.
This policy, which effectively provides sanctuary for illegal aliens as long as they do not commit felony offenses, poses a demonstrated risk to Virginia's legal residents, citizens, and illegal aliens alike. Virginia residents have been killed by drunken illegal aliens who had previously had multiple interactions with local police departments for traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses. Illegal aliens who commit serious misdemeanor offenses such as assault and battery, reckless driving, stalking, violation of a protective order, driving while intoxicated, or indecent exposure are by policy prevented from being identified as illegal aliens. If police officers were allowed to use their discretion and report the legal status of these individuals to ICE, it is possible that repeat offenders could be deported before the severity of their offenses rise to the level of a felony. The current unlawful policy of the Prince William County Police Department deliberately prevents this from happening.
Despite Chief Deane's assertions that "local law enforcement has very limited legal authority to address illegal immigration", prior to the establishment of this policy the Prince William County Police Department was rather effective in doing so. A well publicized enforcement action at a 7-11 in Woodbridge in October of 2004 allowed eleven illegal aliens to be deported using the authority that this current policy now denies to police officers, for example. The Washington Post reported ("Some Laborers in VA Face Deportation", Washington Post, Page A01, October 27th, 2004) statements from the director of Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, Ricardo Juarez, which seem to indicate that there was some sort of agreement between the Police Department and this illegal alien apologist group to only selectively enforce the law. Six months after this incident, General Order 26.05 was established which now prohibits precisely this sort of law enforcement activity and shields illegal aliens from the consequences of their behavior as long as they choose to violate laws which are not punishable as felonies.
This general order also inaccurately claims that county police officers have no statutory authority to arrest "undocumented immigrants" (a term not defined in federal, state or local law) when in fact there are several federal laws under which county police officers do have the authority to make arrests. Examples of these laws are Title 8, Section 1304, Subsection (e) of the United States Code (which requires all aliens to carry with them an alien registration receipt card), Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 2005 (Bringing In and Harboring Illegal Aliens) and 18 U.S.C. 1028 (Felony Identification Document Fraud). Informing police officers that they do not have authority to enforce federal immigration law violations when federal statutes actually permit this is not only inaccurate, but helps shield illegal aliens from the valid and legal enforcement powers that local police officers actually do posses.
Because of these and numerous other problems with the legality and consequences of General Order 25.05, the membership of Help Save Manassas calls on Chief Deane and the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to immediately rescind this General Order, and engage in a discussion with the public in regards to what the policy of the Prince William County Police Department should be in regards to officer interactions with suspected or actual illegal aliens.