One year after releasing details on its framework for interacting with immigrants living in the country without legal permission, Arlington County, Virginia, board members and County Manager Mark Schwartz passed a trust policy meant to limit interactions with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Arlington County Trust Policy was passed unanimously Tuesday, following community feedback and public comment sessions dating back to September 2021.
“Our vision is to be a welcoming and inclusive community where every person is important, and every person thrives,” the policy says.
Under the new policy, county officials would consider the use of resources for the purposes of enforcing immigration policies inappropriate; restrict the ability of county police officers to share any “personally identifiable information that could be used to further immigration enforcement efforts”; and keep law enforcement from arresting, interviewing or investigating people just to determine if their immigration status.
Board Vice Chair Christian Dorsey described the policy as “progress” for the community, and said conversations would be ongoing.
“This does not transform Arlington overnight, but I have come to appreciate and understand, based on the advocacy of many in our community, some of whom are in this room, that it’s a necessary step. A vital prerequisite,” Dorsey said.
The policy was taken up with the goal of increasing the engagement of community members with county employees, county resources and government services as well.
This trust policy also requires reporting of violations to the Community Oversight Board with oversight from the county executive.
“I am particularly pleased to see the compliance and accountability part of the policy. For me, reporting on the policy — reporting on how we do, reporting on how we comply and asking our community to provide us with a continuous stream of feedback on that — is absolutely critical,” Board Member Takis P. Karantonis said.
COVID-19 emergency declaration to end
Arlington officials, during their board meeting on Tuesday, also said the county’s coronavirus pandemic emergency declaration will end on Aug. 15.
While Schwartz noted high levels of transmission across PCR tests and increased opportunities for vaccines among those age 5 and older, “the need for those emergency authorities has dwindled.”
“The declaration has been an important tool offering the flexibility needed to better serve our residents, businesses and visitors,” Schwartz said. The declaration will end 885 days after it was implemented, Schwartz noted.
The declaration allowed for virtual and online work, appointments and inspections, along with virtual county meetings for the board and commission. It was put in place on March 13, 2020, as the region entered its first COVID-19 spike.
The decision does not immediately end the county’s temporary outdoor seating policies, which will stay in place through Feb. 2023.