While the grander issues of separating families through deportation, comprehensive immigration reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and in-state tuition are terribly important, the day-to-day practical issue of transportation that allows migrants to support themselves and their families is most immediate for laborers. In many cases, persons whose status allows them to legally remain in the United States are prohibited from obtaining licenses under Virginia law.
"How, if you are allowed to work, are you not able to drive to work?" - Joseph Montano, American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia
The consequences on a personal level are devastating. Virginians still in high school, working to support their families, end up taking court docket time, missing school, and paying fines that are doubly punitive. Teachers who take an interest in the welfare of their students often accompany them on their own time in an effort to provide at least support and some counsel. Out of necessity, many end up repeat offenders. Further, being responsible, they make an effort to follow the law by acquiring insurance. But as anyone who has experience in the shadows knows, there is only street justice there. Who knows if these often more expensive policies are even in force?
Joseph Montano attempted to clear up the confusion about responsibilities of state and local jurisdictions and the liabilities associated with ICE detainers yesterday, addressing the Central Virginia Regional Meeting of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights in Charlottesville. Cooperation with ICE has the unintended consequence of eroding public safety while redirecting funding from other public functions.
ICE detainers are requests to local law enforcement to hold the person in the request for up to 48 hours. Discretion to enforce those requests rests with local law enforcement. There is no legal requirement to comply with them. But there has been a complete disconnect between federal and local officials.
This morning I was looking up local websites and on the Arlington County website I was looking at their frequently asked questions with detainers. ... on their website there's a question "Can Arlington elect not to honor and immigration detainer issued by ICE?" And the answer to that said "No. All state and local officials are required by federal law to honor ICE detainers." - Joe Montano; Virginia ACLU
ICE detention requests do not provide a basis for retention on their own. They are often issued by a lone ICE officer without due process, without review, and without a judicial warrant. Their sole purpose is to investigate whether a person has committed a civil immigration offense. Detaining a person after they're eligible for release without probable cause is a violation of the 4th Amendment. Further, responding to these requests is fairly expansive. By responding to these requests, local law enforcement is acting as a proxy for federal enforcement without reimbursement for the period until ICE assumes actual custody. Not only does the local jurisdiction assume the burden of that cost, it also assumes liability for potential damages from lawsuits over wrongful imprisonment.