Looking around the U.S. the concept of “sanctuary city” has a range of definitions. Some of my neighbors believe that Alexandria is a sanctuary city. City officials have denied that attribution. Alexandria’s policy, adopted in 2007, is that if someone arrested has committed a violent crime and their immigration status is in question, Alexandria sends the information to appropriate federal and state authorities.
As I understand it, however, Alexandria police are not required to investigate individuals detained on routine traffic stops or other minor law infractions about their immigration status. The city policy is aimed at allowing our police force do the job they should be doing — keeping our citizenry as safe as possible — but not doing the work of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in ferreting out who is and who isn’t documented.
That makes utter sense to me. Law enforcement in Alexandria has a great many responsibilities to fulfill on behalf of us, the residents. Police numbers and time are finite. To do the work of ICE adds a new and potentially heavy burden that could make all of us less safe. Oh yes, and for no compensation.
As Mayor Silberberg eloquently expressed at a recent council meeting, Alexandria is a tolerant and inclusive city. In that sense, all of our residents — even the newcomer Alt-Right — live in a “sanctuary” of respect for individual dignity in what seems to be an increasingly intolerant and poisonous national environment. The police are essential to maintaining that sanctuary. They should be allowed to concentrate their efforts here.