For Immediate release
Contact: Nadine Wahab, Rights Working Group
Arlington County Rejects Federal “Secure Communities” Program
Statement by the Rights Working Group
Washington DC — September 29, 2010 – Yesterday afternoon, a historic decision was taken by the Arlington County (Virginia) Board when they unanimously adopted a resolution announcing their decision to withdraw from the federal “Secure Communities” program. Arlington joined the Santa Clara (California) Board of Supervisors who also rejected yesterday the attempt by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to impose immigration enforcement responsibilities on local law enforcement agencies.
The Arlington County Board Resolution notes:
“…there are concerns among Arlington County law enforcement and our residents that the Secure Communities Initiative will create divisions in our community and promote a culture of fear and distrust of law enforcement that threatens public safety and makes communities less safe… the unilateral imposition of the Secure Communities Initiative on Arlington County law enforcement agencies has deprived the residents of Arlington County, its elected officials, and its law enforcement officials of the opportunity to give full and proper consideration to the impact the program may have on our community…”
Through thoughtful consultation with the Arlington County Sheriff and Chief of Police, as well as with community members and advocates, the County Board recognized that the Secure Communities program would likely damage the community policing programs that have helped to keep Arlington County’s crime rate at an all-time low for the last few years.
Margaret Huang, Executive Director of Rights Working Group, noted “The victory in Arlington happened because community members organized and mobilized to work with elected officials and law enforcement leaders to stop a program that was imposed on Arlington. Communities should always have the loudest and last voice on how best to promote their own public safety and civil liberties.”
Arlington did the right thing today. The County Board recognized that the police will better protect the community by focusing on criminal behavior and activity rather than doing the federal government’s job of enforcing immigration laws.
Rights Working Group commends the Arlington County Board and the Clara County Board of Supervisors for promoting their communities’ safety and civil rights today. We urge other local jurisdictions to join the effort and to call for an end to the Secure Communities Initiative.
Formed in the aftermath of 9/11, the Rights Working Group is a coalition of 275 community-based grassroots groups and national organizations working to restore civil liberties and human rights protections for all people living in the U.S. 1120 Connecticut Ave, NW, Suite 1100, Washington, D.C. 20036, T: 202-591-3311 F: 202-591-3339