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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.

Category Archives: Press Releases

Prince William & Manassas Rejects Renewing ICE Agreement

For Immediate Release                                 

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Contact:

Press@vacir.org

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

Press@vacir.org

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.

Upcoming Executive Order Forgets How Essential All Immigrants Are

For Immediate Release  

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Contact: Press@vacir.org

Upcoming Executive Order Forgets How Essential All Immigrants Are

Arlington, Va. — Last night, President Trump tweeted his intent to suspend immigration due to COVID-19. Reports indicate that an executive order will be announced today.

Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights releases the following statement:

“At a time where there is already suspended travel in other countries, the executive order would not mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The executive order would be insulting to hard working immigrants and their contributions to our communities. 

The United States is dependent on both documented and undocumented immigrants. Immigrant workers are making sure there is food on the table, researching cures, taking care of people in hospitals and keeping facilities clean. 

No person should be singled out when the pandemic has already spread. We need to focus on putting forth policies that protect people’s health and safety while promoting economic stability for families who are unable to access unemployment benefits.

Immigration is essential to keeping the United States functioning and safe. Halting immigration is detrimental to the safety and well being of all Americans.

Information about Virginia’s Immigrant Community: 

  • Virginia’s immigrants pay over $256 million in taxes 
  • 6,700 TPS Holders and 2,700 DACA Recipients are essential workers during COVID-19
  • As of 2014, there are over 269,000 Undocumented Immigrants in Virginia.
  • 3.5 % of Virginia’s Population is Undocumented.

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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.

Virginia’s Immigrant Community is Earns the Right to Drive

For Immediate Release                                 

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Contact: Press@vacir.org

Virginia’s Immigrant Community is Earns the Right to Drive

Richmond,VA — Monica Sarmiento, the Executive Director of the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights releases the following statement in regards to the passage of HB 1211, the driver’s privilege cards bill that would allow the 270,000 immigrants in Virginia the right to drive:

“The right to drive has been the number one issue for the immigrant community in Virginia. The newfound ability for immigrant families to drive to work, pick up their kids from school and get to the grocery store will make an immense impact on their day to day lives. 

The fight has always been about improving the quality of life for immigrants. Although driver’s licenses is the equitable approach, driver’s privilege card accomplishes the overall goal of providing the undocumented community the opportunity to drive with the necessary privacy protections. 

Driver’s privilege cards will give many families the ability to have reliable transportation for the first time. It will help ease the minds of the families who worry that their loved one is not coming home due to driving without a license or being pulled over at a routine traffic stop.

The unity from many organizations and advocates from across Virginia to rally, make phone calls, email their legislators, host vigils and march to support issues for the right to drive has given many immigrant families hope and a new found support system. We are looking forward to continuing our work to protect the rights of the immigrant and refugee community.”

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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.

Dream and Promise Act Passes

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, June 5, 2019

Contact: Waameeka AheVonderae, press@vacir.org, (804) 362-8110

 

Dream and Promise Act Passes

Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights Praises the Passage of the Dream and Promise Act

 

Richmond, Virginia —  The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (HR 6) was passed in the United States House of Representatives following Congress’ return from recess. The Dream and Promise Act of 2019 would provide permanent relief for upwards of 2.5 million aspiring Americans, many of whom have deep ties to our communities, decades of residency, and cannot obtain immigration status under existing law. 23,500 people in Virginia are TPS holders from El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti. Without those TPS holders, 1.3 billion would be lost from state GDP annually.  

 

“The passage of the Dream and Promise Act of 2019 in the U.S. House of Representatives is a strong first step towards ensuring that men, women, and children fleeing violence can live safe and peaceful lives,says Monica Sarmiento, Executive Director for the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights. “It is now up to the Senate and the White House to pass and sign this bill into law.

 

VACIR a collaborative of 34 organizations, is calling on lawmakers to do what is right for the immigrant community and pass this bill to provide a pathway to the American Dream to many deserving immigrants.