HELP SAVE MANASSAS TO DEMAND CHANGE IN POLICE DEPARTMENT POLICY REGARDING ILLEGAL ALIENS
June 3rd, 2007
Manassas, Virginia - Help Save Manassas, a grassroots effort dedicated to reducing the number of illegal aliens present in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park will call on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors to rescind the policy of the Prince William County Police Department which directs officers not to question the immigration status of suspected illegal aliens. This policy, which the Prince William County Police Department has refused to release to the citizens, is similar to the now-rescinded policy in Virginia Beach that contributed to the deaths of Tessa Tranchant (age 16) and Allison Kunhardt (age 17) by a drunken illegal alien by the name of Alfredo Ramos on the evening of March 30th, 2007.
"It is absolutely outrageous that the police department would have a secret policy like this which clearly endangers the citizens of Prince William County and all who travel through it" remarked Greg Letiecq, President of Help Save Manassas. "We frequently read reports in the local newspaper of traffic accidents involving drunken suspects who do not posess drivers licenses, who may well be illegal aliens. If the police department is steadfastly ignoring the legal status of these individuals, it will be complicit in any fatalities that may result from repeat offenders who are illegal aliens. Offenders who are illegal aliens should be deported, not protected from the consequences of their behavior by the very police who are pledged to protect us," Letiecq added.
A policy of prohibiting police officers from asking the immigration status of suspected illegal aliens is a major component of what are often termed "sanctuary policies". It is the understanding of Help Save Manassas that such policies violate the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 USC § 1373). Section (a) of that federal law states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.
Several members of Help Save Manassas have filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Prince William County Police Department requesting copies of the Department's policy in regards to officer contact with suspected illegal aliens, and have been consistenly denied. These denials cited Virginia Code § 2.2-3706(D) as the rationale for refusing to provide the public with relevant information about how the Department protects the public safety, and the membership of Help Save Manassas believes this is improper and an abuse of Virginia's Freedom of Information laws. Help Save Manassas has secured the assistance of Judicial Watch, a nationally recognized public interest legal organization, in order to file an appeal of this decision, and is confident this decision will be overturned.
Help Save Manassas Legislative Affairs Director Maureen Wood summarized the organization's demands as follows: "This policy is in violation of federal law, it is contrary to the mission of the Prince William County Police Department of protecting the safety of the public, and it is being unlawfully witheld from public disclosure. This is an unconscionable breach of the public trust and we call on the Board of County Supervisors to direct the Police Department to immediately rescind this unlawful and ill-advised secret sanctuary policy."
Help Save Manassas will attend the June 5th meeting of the Board of County Supervisors at 2PM in order to share their concerns during citizen's time and request the board overturn this policy which is known as General Order 26.05.
Help Save Manassas is a grassroots effort of the citizens of Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William County which seeks to enact responsible legislative solutions to the problems associated with the presence of illegal aliens in the community. There are currently 220 members in the organization, which was formed in April of 2007.