WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today sent a letter to the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) demanding answers on reported enforcement actions in Virginia in recent days as a result of President Trump’s Jan. 25, 2017 executive order.
Sen. Warner is asking for specific details on any enforcement actions in Virginia, including whether – or how – criminal backgrounds are prioritized by ICE officials, and if any reasonable provision is made for suspects who have minor children.
The text of the letter follows. A copy of the letter is available here.
February 16, 2017
Acting Director Thomas Homan
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20536-5004
Dear Acting Director Homan:
On January 25, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” While I have been supportive of increased enforcement as part of comprehensive immigration reform, immigrants are an integral part of Virginia’s culture and economy, and it is my strong belief that a policy of attrition through enforcement will be detrimental for Virginia’s families, neighborhoods, and communities.
By broadening enforcement actions in such a way that does not reasonably prioritize an individual’s criminal record, the Executive Order diverts resources from our true security needs and stands to make us less, rather than more, safe. I remain committed to legislative solutions which strengthen our nation’s borders, improve our legal immigration system, and find practical solutions for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States.
It has come to my attention that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel have been conducting enforcement actions in Virginia in recent days, causing uncertainty and fear for many of my constituents. Since information on the scope and conduct of these ICE actions has been difficult to ascertain, I request timely answers to the following questions:
1. In what ways, if any, does the executive order change the agency’s priorities for detention and removal? And what is the specific timeframe for making alterations to previous guidance or authorities?
2. Does ICE interpret section 5 (c) have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense to mean that individuals who are in the U.S. unlawfully are priorities for removal?
3. To date, how many individuals detained were targets of the enforcement actions vs. collateral detentions of individuals who were not targeted? And how many of those individuals have been detained and/or deported as a result of these ICE enforcement actions?
4. Section 5 (b) list individuals who have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved, as priorities for removal. How does ICE interpret the directive in instances where the court has not rendered a judgment
5. Are enforcement actions happening at or near sensitive locations such as places of worship, healthcare centers & schools
6. What steps were taken by ICE to adhere to the Parental Interests Directive and ensure appropriate care for the detained individuals' minor children that may be at school during the enforcement actions?
7. Section 11 requires the Attorney General and DHS Secretary to ensure that adequate resources are devoted to the prosecution of criminal immigration offenses. To what extent, if any, does the section also grant detained individuals access to legal assistance?
8. What steps are being taken to comply with 8 USC 1367 – which provides immigration relief to victims of domestic violence – in Virginia, and what actions are being taken to instruct ICE agents accordingly?
9. For those individuals who may be subjected to expedited removal, what steps is ICE taking to verify that they are not entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge/that they have not been physically present in the United States for two years?
I anticipate a timely response from your office in this urgent matter.
Mark R. Warner
United States Senator
UPDATE: Click here to see ICE's response to Sen. Warner's letter.