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VACIR is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.

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Driver Information Protection Bill Passes VA Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee

For Immediate Release

Monday, February 22, 2021

Contact: Press@vacir.org 


Driver Information Protection Bill Passes VA Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee

Richmond, VA — Today, the Virginia Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee passed H.B. 2163, the DMV Data Privacy Protection bill to help safeguard the information of new immigrant drivers who obtained a driver privilege card.

H.B. 2163 would add privacy protection measures for all driver’s information since state police and third-party data companies are able to access this information and potentially share it with ICE. This information includes where a person lives, what car they drive, and a photo of what they look like.

“Immigrant drivers are doing the right thing by taking the road test and getting a driver privilege card,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “By not protecting the information of drivers, we are putting at risk thousands of drivers and their families from being targeted by ICE.”

Currently, anyone obtaining a driver privilege card (DPC) could run the risk of having their information shared unethically. There are several states who previously shared DMV data with federal law enforcement agencies, such as Washington, Vermont, Utah, North Carolina, and Georgia. In granting access to the DMV database, states are feeding into the ICE pipeline, handing ICE a list of potential deportees.

“We applaud the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee for passing this important bill,” said John Cano, Centreville Immigration Forum. “This is a great victory for all Virginians as we continue to be a welcoming Virginia for all.”

Over 270,000+ undocumented immigrants are eligible to obtain a driver privilege card. This has helped families have the opportunity to drive to work, go to the doctors, and improve their quality of life.

“It is hope and relief for us. A great achievement,” said Geronimo R., driver and community member with Centreville Immigration Forum.

H.B. 2163 will now be sent to the full Senate for consideration of passage. If passed, H.B. 2163 would need to be sent to a conference committee due to language changes in the Senate.

Forced Sterilizations Continues ICE’s Practice of Dehumanization of Immigrants

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, September 28, 20

Contact: Margie Del Castillo



Alexandria, VA – The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) 

Healthcare worker Dawn Wooten made allegations of forced hysterectomies at a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility located in Ocilla, Georgia on September 14, 2020. Ms. Wooten who worked at the Irwin Detention Center (IDC) located three hours south of Atlanta, Georgia stated on the Chris Hayes show, “I had several detained women on numerous occasions that would come to me and say ‘Ms. Wooten, I had a hysterectomy. Why?”

The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights applauds Ms. Wooten’s bravery and dedication to hold those accountable for egregious violations of human rights. 

Margie Del Castillo, the VACIR Board Chair, is calling for a full investigation into these serious allegations and demands justice for the women and people who have suffered forced sterilization. “This is not the first time we learned of cruel and inhumane treatment towards Black women and women of color at the hands of the United States government. Our society and communities must hold the Immigration and Customs Enforcement accountable for its numerous human rights violations. These latest allegations are the result of a system that has failed our communities, families, and every member of our society. We at VACIR hold Congress and the Trump Administration responsible for the neglect, incompetency, and overall failure of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It is beyond time to eliminate the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and replace it with a new system that reflects the ethics, moral compass, and affords the dignity and compassion the immigrant community deserves.”



The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations that exists to win dignity, power and quality of life for all immigrant and refugee communities.


Supreme Court Protects DACA

For Immediate Release  

Thursday, June 18, 2020




Today, the Supreme Court announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in place. This is a major win for DACA recipients and families who have faced the ongoing court battles.

“Today on a very special day for our family, we celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary,” Lenka M., Dreamers Mother’s in Action.  “We arrived in the USA in March 2000 with my 2 children, ages 5 and 2. Now they are my young Dreamers. Continuing DACA means that they will be able to work and pay for their studies. Today we can sleep peacefully without uncertainty and the shadow of deportation. It means a lot to almost 700,000 dreamers who will be able to get on with their lives. DACA is temporary but we will continue fighting for a legalized pathway to citizenship for all because Home Is Here”

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established in 2012 by President Obama under Executive Order. This enabled many undocumented immigrants who had come to the U.S. before age 16 to receive a temporary reprieve from deportation and work permits. This recognized the humanity of thousands of children. 

“We are overjoyed of today’s decision by the Supreme Court in protecting DACA,” Mohamed Gula, Executive Director of Emgage. “We will continue to fight until DACA is permanently protected and our Dreamers are considered as a member of our collective family.”

DACA is a promise that immigrants can be given the chance to live and thrive by being protected from deportation without the need for legislation that hurts other immigrants in their community. DACA helped 9,410 people develop deep roots in Virginia. DACA opened up opportunities for higher education, work, stability, and safety for the first time in many people’s lives.

“I am SO happy Supreme Court decided to keep DACA,” Woo, a community member with NAKASEC. It means I can continue working with the people I love and live life without worrying about losing my job and income. This decision was the work of us young people to fight for our rights and we did it.”

The Supreme Court understood the impact ending DACA would have on our society during COVID-19 through a supplemental brief submitted during the pandemic. In Virginia, over 2,700 DACA Recipients are on the front lines working in health care, education, and food-related jobs.

“Today we stand in complete celebration on the decision of the Supreme Court took in favor of DACA,” said Luis Aguilar, Virginia State Director with CASA and DACA recipient.  “Our immigrant community and society at large benefit from this decision. We will continue to fight justice for our immigrant communities. This is one more victory we can claim in building a more just society and equitable society. I look forward to the day where immigrant communities and communities of color are treated as equal.”

Without DACA, the US would have had the ability to deport people who have only known Virginia as their home. Many DACA recipients have had children and bought homes in the Commonwealth. Over 2,800 parents with children are DACA recipients in Virginia. Virginia is tied for 13th place for the number of DACA recipients by state.

“Last year we rallied in front of the Supreme Court in the freezing rain to demand they protect DACA,” said Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the with Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “Today we are grateful that the Supreme Court recognized the value, talent, and greatness DACA recipients bring to Virginia and America. We honor so many who fought for this victory. Thank you to all who organized and helped make this victory possible.”

Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR), a multi-racial and multi-ethnic coalition of organizations has had a long history of ensuring DACA recipients and their families are protected. Our work has included DACA renewal clinics, sending amicus briefs in support of DACA to the courts, advocacy work with the Virginia Congressional delegation and Attorney General, and rallies in front of the Supreme Court.

Prince William & Manassas Rejects Renewing ICE Agreement

For Immediate Release                                 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020



Prince William & Manassas Rejects Renewing ICE Agreement

Manassas, Va. — Today, the jail board overseeing the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center voted to end the 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). At a time when the Trump administration has been creating new 287(g) agreements with localities, ending the agreement has been a push back from two of Virginia’s localities.

“With the national conversation rightfully focused on the brutalities of law enforcement against Black and Brown people, the ending of 287g in Prince William County is nothing short of historic,” said Luis Oyola, local committee chair of VACIR with Legal Aid Justice Center.  “This contract enabled far too many abuses by ICE and the Jail against immigrants in the County. This is the people’s win and we look forward to ending all abuses against the marginalized people of Prince William County.”

Prince William County is a majority-minority community. 1 in 4 immigrants reside in Prince William County. From 2011 to July 2019, over 6,503 inmates have been transferred to ICE. Since 2018, over 579 people have been deported under the agreement. 

“Negatives of the 287g agreement is far from keeping us safe,” said Lenka M, with Dreamers Mother’s In Action. “It has made the Latino community the most vulnerable. Our people are afraid to call the police if they are victims of some crime. It has made our city more insecure and has made people a target of discrimination. 12 years ago when that racist 287(g) deal was installed, many of my neighbors and friends abandoned the county out of fear. My family and I decided to stay because hatred couldn’t beat us. We wanted to fight for a better place to live. For my family and as a member of the PWC community, today is a historic day of change. Today is the day we say hate and discrimination, you are not welcome in my city.”

Many households are dependent on the income of a parent who may be deported. The median income for immigrant households on average drops from $36,000 to $15,400 when a family member is deported. This is well below the poverty line. Additionally, if a single parent is deported, children may be sent to foster care which puts more financial cost on the localities.

“We stand in absolute support with the new leadership at the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail Board that has taken a clear stance against the 287(g) program. As an organization in Prince William County and Manassas, CASA has organized, advocated, and transformed the area these past years. This is a step forward for the county to end mass deportations, the criminalization of immigrants, and ripping families apart. We have new leadership in Prince William County that is more representative of all its residents and as such more in tune to the community needs and this is absolutely a victory for our community and progress for the county.” said Luis Aguilar, CASA Virginia Director.

The 287(g) agreement in Prince William County-Manassas Adult Detention Center is one of two in Virginia. The majority of the expenses to run the program are paid for by the taxpayers of Prince William County and Manassas. It costs both localities over $300,000 per year. A study by the Brookings Institute found that Prince William County had to raise property taxes and divert funds from reserves to start its 287(g) program in 2009. Because of the shifting dynamics of elected and appointed officials of the jail board, this policy reversal was possible.

“Ending the agreement is just the beginning of a movement to make our communities more inclusive, said Evelin Urrtia, VACIR 287(g) working group chair with Tenants and Workers United. “We have fought hard to make sure immigrant families stay together. This is time for us to create equitable solutions and to build trust within the immigrant community.”

Prince William County A Step Closer To Removing 287(G) Ice Agreement & Future Criminal Justice Reform

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


Prince William County A Step Closer To Removing 287(G) Ice Agreement & Future Criminal Justice Reform

Prince William County, VA – The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) applauds the appointments of three at-large jail board seats to Prince William – Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center. These candidates believe in ending the 287(g) ICE agreement and will help enact future criminal justice reform. The Prince William Board of Supervisors appointed Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, Rev. Cozy Bailey and Tracey Lenox. 

The 287(g) renewal agreement expires on June 30, 2020. At the next jail board meeting in June, the ICE agreement will be on the agenda. Under 287(g) program, ICE designates officers at the Prince William – Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center to help detain, process and enable deportation proceedings. The agreement has a long history of intimidation for the immigrant community. 

“By appointing candidates who are not only committed to end the 287(g) and fixing our criminal justice system that needs major improvements,  it will provide an opportunity for Prince William County to advance social justice,” said Evelin Urrutia, Executive Director of Tenants and Workers United. “These jail board appointments will give a chance to start changing the county for the better.”

The 287(g) agreement in Prince William County is one of two in Virginia. Majority of the expenses to run the program are paid for by the taxpayers of Prince William County and Manassass. The county’s ICE agreement costs the jail about $300,000 on average every year as stated from the Prince William Times article.

“Ending the 287g agreement would send the message that every family is welcome and a valued part of our communities, said Laura Goren with The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. “This is the right thing for its own sake, and it’s also the right thing to do to build trust in local government during the current pandemic and resulting recession.”

Although these new jail board appointees will have created an opportunity to end the 287(g) ICE agreement in June, there is an outstanding possibility to appoint someone in the county executive’s place. The county executive also sits on the jail board. The Board of Supervisors will decide if someone will take the place of the county executive during the jail board meeting by or at the June 2nd meeting.

To watch the public comments and votes, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors  archive the meeting on their website at pwcgov.org/video.