The ACLU of Virginia filed a lawsuit against Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins and the local board of supervisors over an unauthorized agreement with the federal government – known as a 287(g) Agreement – to use county resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Under the 287(g) Agreement entered into between Sheriff Jenkins and United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April 2018, sheriff’s deputies are empowered to perform certain functions of ICE officers, including questioning people and detaining them even for civil violations of federal immigration laws. Having sheriff’s deputies acting as ICE agents makes communities less safe because it creates fear among immigrants, documented or undocumented, that reporting crimes or otherwise cooperating with law enforcement as a victim or witness will lead to their status being questioned and them or their families ultimately being detained or deported.
Virginia is a “Dillon Rule” state, meaning that local governments only have authority to take actions specifically authorized by the state Constitution or legislature. The ACLU of Virginia's complaint explains that neither the Constitution of Virginia nor the Virginia General Assembly permit the use of local taxpayer funds to enforce federal civil immigration law. By executing the 287(g) Agreement, Sheriff Jenkins is giving county resources to the federal government illegally. The plaintiffs in the suit are two ordinary county residents who object to their local tax dollars being spent for this purpose. The lawsuit asks the court to order the county to terminate the agreement and stop enforcing federal immigration laws immediately.
The lawsuit was filed in the Culpeper County Circuit Court and is the result of a pro bono partnership between the ACLU of Virginia and McGuireWoods LLP.