Arlington County Law Enforcement and Immigration

Immigration and Local Law Enforcement

  • Arlington County complies with all requirement of local law enforcement agencies under federal and state laws related to immigration. However, the role of Arlington County law enforcement is to keep our community safe, not enforce federal immigration laws.
  • Arlington County remains committed to being a diverse and inclusive community that values and respects all residents.
  • Arlington County Police serves all people, regardless of citizenship or immigration status, and works with the community to maintain strong relationships vital to public safety.
  • “Nothing has changed in the way we interact with our immigrant community,” said Arlington Police Chief Andy Penn. “It is not the role of the Arlington County Police Department to enforce federal immigration law. We want to make sure that all people – regardless of their country of origin – continue to report crimes and do not fear interacting with Arlington County Police officers.”

Arlington Remains a Welcoming Community

  • Arlington County remains a community that welcomes and values all residents, regardless of immigration status.
  • Arlington County is committed to providing for the safety, health, and welfare of our community.
  • Arlington County Police has long history of community policing working closely with our community to reduce/prevent crime and improve the quality of life of all of Arlington’s residents, visitors and businesses regardless of status. Arlington County law enforcement officers do not have statutory authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
    • Arlington County believes creating a culture of fear and distrust of law enforcement makes a community less safe.
    • The Arlington County Police will continue to work with residents, civic associations and others to maintain strong relationships vital to public safety.
    • The Arlington County Police has two Community Outreach Teams that promote community-based partnerships by engaging with civic associations, neighborhoods, businesses, residents and other County agencies to resolve ongoing issues.
  • An individual’s right to file a police report, participate in police-community activities, or otherwise benefit from police services is not contingent upon citizenship or immigration status.


Law Enforcement Policies and Procedures

Arlington County…

  • Has not changed its law enforcement policy or procedures related to immigration.
  • Complies with all federal and state laws related to immigration. It is not the role of Arlington County law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws.
  • Has not and does not perform proactive immigration status checks on our residents or visitors.
  • Has not and will not monitor, detain, interview or investigate an individual solely for the purpose of determining their immigration status.
  • Will not request passports, visas, “green cards,” or travel documents instead of, or in addition to, standard forms of identification. Standard forms of identification include a driver’s license or other government-issued identification. Identification with a photograph is preferred but not required.
    • During the course of an investigation, Arlington County Police will always seek to identify individuals, particularly those who they have reasonable suspicion to believe have committed a crime.
    • For certain crimes that do not require a custodial arrest, the individual may be released on a summons, unless there is a reason to believe that the individual will not respond to the summons. If a person cannot provide identification or sufficient information to confirm their identity, it could result in the individual’s arrest.

Arrest and Booking Process in Arlington County

  • With limited exceptions, all individuals, including undocumented immigrants, arrested and booked are required by Virginia law to submit fingerprints for identification and classification and have a criminal records check conducted.
  • Anytime a criminal records check or fingerprint scan is conducted, this information is checked against the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) which interfaces with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) database. This could include any situation in which a custodial arrest and detention is appropriate. This may include arrest for traffic infractions, misdemeanor and felony charges.
  • Under state law, Arlington County is required to:
    • Collect fingerprints of individuals arrested and booked, and
    • Electronically submit these to Virginia State Police so they can be checked against the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN). Once the fingerprints are checked against VCIN, a query of federal databases is also electronically performed, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Enforcement Integrated Database (EID).
    • If there is a positive fingerprint match in the DHS database, ICE is electronically alerted and can undertake a more thorough investigation.
  • Consistent with the January 5, 2015 advisory opinion by the Virginia Attorney General, Arlington County does not hold detainees in custody at the County Detention Facility based solely on a detainer request by ICE.
    • In order for the Sheriff’s Office to detain an individual after they have satisfied their local charges, a judicially issued warrant must accompany the detainer.
  • For more information on the federal enforcement of immigration laws, visit the ICE website.

Enforcement of Federal Immigration Laws

  • Enforcement of federal immigration law is the responsibility of the federal government.
    • Arlington County does not participate in the 287 (g) Program which authorizes the federal government to enter into agreements with state and local law enforcement agencies to perform immigration law enforcement functions.
  • Arlington County Police will cooperate to the fullest extent with any federal, state or local law enforcement agency, including ICE, requesting assistance with executing a criminal warrant within Arlington County. Arlington County Police’s involvement is limited to those actions where a criminal warrant exists for the apprehension of a specific individual(s).