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February 15, 2019

In light of a recent news report regarding Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron having held more than 1,200 people arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and volunteering his force to help ICE enforce federal immigration law, the ACLU of Virginia issued the following statement calling on Sheriff Baron to end his cooperation with ICE immediately. This statement may be attributed to ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga:

"The Norfolk Sheriff should follow the lead of the Fairfax County Sheriff who made the right decision and terminated Fairfax’s Intergovernmental Service Agreement (IGSA) with the Department of Homeland Security under which it was housing detainees for ICE.  Doing so would help slow the rising tide of over-detention through capricious immigration enforcement that threatens to engulf Virginia.

"Terminating the IGSA would also save Norfolk taxpayers from having to pay the excess costs incurred for housing federal detainees for ICE at the reduced rates in the agreement (cost of housing prisoners is $69.48 and ICE pays $44.50, plus the state takes three fourths of the federal payment, meaning Norfolk nets $11). City Council should question whether it should help underwrite this costly practice by subsidizing the jail’s operations through City tax dollars.

"No state or local agency is required to volunteer to provide services to, or do the enforcement work of, federal immigration officials. The Norfolk Sheriff’s current voluntary partnership with ICE likely makes it more difficult for the Norfolk City Police Department to engage constructively with immigrant people in the community. Ending the IGSA agreement will help keep everyone in Norfolk safer by encouraging people in immigrant communities to engage with law enforcement in positive ways."