- A Fairfax County Police officer was suspended for turning an illegal alien over to federal immigration authorities, renewing debate over how police should cooperate with ICE.
- Former ICE acting Director Tom Homan said the suspension was “disgusting,” and noted that ICE has worked to keep criminals off the streets of Fairfax County.
- The Fraternal Order of Police also blasted the police chief who suspended the officer, issuing a public statement that called not the chief to “remember where he came from.”
Former ICE chief Tom Homan reacted to the punishment given to a local police officer who reported an illegal alien to federal immigration authorities.
An unidentified police officer in Fairfax County, Virginia was suspended with pay after he turned an illegal alien over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a violation of the police department’s policy. The punishment has renewed scrutiny over how local law enforcement should interact with federal authorities.
“It’s totally disgusting. Here’s a police officer responding to a traffic accident caused by an illegal alien that has no driver’s license, has no insurance. He ran him through the system, there was an outstanding warrant from ICE because he’s in the country illegally, he’s a fugitive from justice,” Homan said Wednesday on Fox News.
“The cop was being a cop. For the [police] chief to suspend him, maybe the chief ought to remember what it’s like being a cop because the chief stopped being a cop when he made that decision. He became a politician. It’s disgusting,” Homan continued.
The incident took place on September 21 when an officer responded to a traffic accident in the Groveton neighborhood of Fairfax County. After discovering that one individual did not have a driver’s license, the officer ran the driver’s information through the Department of Motor Vehicles. The check revealed that the individual had failed to appear to a deportation hearing.
The officer then contacted ICE, and held the driver under custodial detention until a transfer to ICE was made.
Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. apologized for the officer’s actions, saying that it was a “lapse in judgement.”
“This is an unfortunate issue where the officer was confused,” Roessler stated. “We have trained on this issue a lot. This is the first time we’ve had a lapse in judgment, and the officer is being punished.”
The heavily-democratic Fairfax County has prohibited police officers since 2007 from asking about an individual’s immigration status or from apprehending suspects based solely on a civil immigration violation. The county was recently listed on Immigration Reform Law Institute’s top ten list of worst sanctuary communities in the country.
The Fairfax County public affairs office did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation. Federal immigration authorities, however, reiterated its position that cooperation with local police is necessary for community safety.
“ICE maintains that its partnerships with law enforcement agencies are essential to maintaining public safety; however, defers comment on this personnel issue to the Fairfax County Police Department,” an ICE spokesperson said to the Daily Caller News Foundation on Wednesday.
Homan also pointed out that ICE has been instrumental in fighting criminal activity in Fairfax County.
“The only confusion here is the chief who forgot what it’s like to be on the streets and protect the communities. ICE is helping [the police chief]. Do you know how many criminal aliens ICE has taken off the streets of Fairfax? I mean, law enforcement is supposed to work on law enforcement,” the former ICE director said.
Criticism was not just limited to those in federal circles. The National Fraternal Order of Police, a massive union that represents hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers across the U.S., issued a scathing statement over the suspension.
“All police officers at every level take an oath to enforce the law — not just laws that are politically agreeable to elected officials in their jurisdictions,” National FOP President Patrick Yoes said in a statement released on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, Chief Roessler has decided to penalize an officer for being faithful to his oath of office rather than to the political likes and dislikes of his superiors. The Chief was an officer once — he needs to remember where he came from.”
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