Fairfax Co. Board Spars Over Immigration Stance, Gangs

WASHINGTON — Fairfax County leaders say local policies tied to immigration remain the same: the county is a welcoming community. But a values statement approved by the board of supervisors Tuesday sparked some sharp debate.

“Fairfax County is a welcoming and accepting community where residents of all backgrounds deserve to feel respected and safe,” Board Chairman Sharon Bulova said as she introduced the resolution.

The resolution states that immigration is a federal issue, but Fairfax County does work with immigration officials on serious issues when required. That includes honoring short-term detainer requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement for people convicted of crimes.

“We do not ask, nor do we have the resources for, our police officers to become immigration officials, nor for Fairfax County to assume the responsibilities of federal immigration officials,” the resolution continues. “Fairfax County Police successfully engage in community policing, which requires the trust of residents who are not afraid to call law enforcement if their safety is at risk, or to report information that may help to solve a crime.”

Bulova expects the Fairfax County School Board and Sheriff Stacey Kinkaid to issue similar resolutions or statements in coming days.

Supervisor Pat Herrity said he does not disagree with anything in the resolution, but sees it as simply part of a political response to President Donald Trump.

“This statement really fails to deal with the real issues that are in front of us. And we’ve got some that are in front of us: the impact on our school system — and there is an impact financial and otherwise — the fiscal impact to the county, the increase in gang violence,” Herrity said.

That drew a sharp rebuke from Supervisor Jeff McKay.

“I resent the attitude that gang violence somehow is only directed toward illegal immigration. We have gang challenges in the county, and, as several others have acknowledged, some of those gang activities are occurring from children who are United States residents,” McKay said, drawing applause from people in the room watching the board meeting.

“I think this is the antithesis of a political statement,” McKay responded. “I think it’s our moral imperative as a board to tell our community where Fairfax County is on issues that have created a tremendous amount of angst.”

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