Rockingham supervisors decline to renew 287(g) immigration agreement
Virginia Organizing leaders are celebrating a victory after the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors declined to renew the 287(g) agreement with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement at a meeting Wednesday night.
“This was a victory for our community as well as our nation,” Virginia Organizing Harrisonburg Chapter leader Fernando Perez said. “We all fought to ensure that the freedoms of all our community members were protected. The rejection of this contract is a clear call for comprehensive immigration reform rather than more patchwork legislation on the local and state levels that unfairly targets immigrants and criminalizes them. The board’s decision was a testament to the power of effective community mobilization.”
Another Virginia Organizing leader, Maria Pena of Harrisonburg, was also relieved by the decision of the Board of Supervisors.
“We are so happy about the decision. This is a victory for the entire community, not just the Latino community. We are looking forward to experiencing some peace in our families and not living in fear. People in the community are responding to this and we know we are not alone in our relief,” Pena said.
Virginia Organizing reviewed the deportation records in Rockingham and found that 88 percent of those deported in the area were classified in lower-level offense categories such as traffic violations. Virginia Organizing and other organizations conducted a listening project on this issue and discovered through interviews of local people that of the more than120 Latinos interviewed, 70 percent expressed a fear of police.
Since 2007, Rockingham County has participated in the 287(g) program, which deputizes local police officers to enforce federal immigration law. The intent of the 287(g) agreement is to deport immigrants who commit felonies or serious offenses. However, the execution of this law has been more broadly applied to include those who commit traffic violations or other minor civil offenses.