CASA Applauds Prince William County’s Decision to End Its 287(g) Program, Protect Immigrant Families, and Promote Community Trust
Prince William County, VA – CASA celebrates the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail Board and the community leaders who fought for years, for ending Prince William County’s 287(g) program, which deputized local law enforcement officers to act as ICE agents. No board member made a motion to extend the program and it will expire on June 30. This program led to mass deportations and discriminatory acts against immigrant families.
“We are incredibly happy that we are able to successfully eliminate 287(g). We’ve been working for many years, organizing, advocating, and fighting for this change. A people-powered shift, community members and pro-immigrant leaders made countless calls to Jail Board members to make sure that Prince William County ended this anti-immigrant program that targets our community,” said Luis Aguilar, CASA Virginia Director “This moment will go down in history as the one when years of work resulted in Prince William County vehemently rejecting hatred and racism and instead embracing diversity and inclusion.”
This decision improves community trust by ensuring that all Prince William County residents feel safe when contacting police and other law enforcement officials without fear that such contact could lead to negative consequences for themselves or their family members.
“Our community has been treated unfairly by those who are supposed to protect us. But now with the end of 287(g), we are less afraid of the police when we drive to work or to take our kids to school. There’s no space for hate and the change starts now,” said Delia Escobar, Prince William County resident and CASA member.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrant families were afraid to seek medical aid due to fear that law enforcement will inquire about their immigration status. Because of the costs to taxpayers, the loss of trust with law enforcement, and continued anti-immigrant sentiment, it was time that the 287(g) program end.
The vote of the Jail Board was not close. After Prince William Sheriff Glenn Hill moved a motion to enter into a new agreement to replace the one expiring, his motion failed to receive a second. We express our gratitude to most board members and particularly want to recognize members that really carried the debate including Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth, Rev. Cozy Bailey, Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, Chief Public Defender Tracey Lenox. and Executive Director of Prince William County’s Human Rights office, Raul Torres. Retiring Chief of Police Barry Barnard raised critical points about the impact of the 287(g) on worsening community law enforcement relations and of the lack of clear data that the program improved public safety.
CASA will continue advocating to create a more equitable and inclusive Prince William County and to protect vulnerable working families and immigrant communities.
With over 100,000 members across the states of Maryland, Virginia, and South Central Pennsylvania, CASA is the largest member-based Latino and immigrant organization in the mid-Atlantic region. Visit us at www.wearecasa.org and follow us on Twitter at @CASAforall