Sheriff's Office Statement on Immigration Concerns

The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office is a public safety agency committed to ensuring the safety and security of the diverse communities it serves. The Sheriff’s Office operates the Alexandria Adult Detention Center (ADC) and complies with local, state, and federal laws.

Page updated on Nov 13, 2018 at 1:52 PM

All Sheriffs in Virginia are required by state codes §19.2-83.2 and §53.1-218 to determine the residency status of individuals arrested and brought to jail.

During the booking process, fingerprints are automatically transmitted to a state database to which all local, state and national law enforcement agencies including ICE, have access. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office does not hold inmates who were arrested on local charges past their release date unless a judicial warrant is filed. Per Code of Virginia §53.1-220.2, the Sheriff’s Office will continue to transfer custody of an inmate to ICE prior to their release date. Alexandria’s compliance with this is consistent with the practices of Arlington and Fairfax counties.

Can the Sheriff’s Office legally transfer custody of individuals to ICE?

Yes, the Sheriff’s Office has the legal authority to do so according to Virginia state code §53.1-220.2. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office sought legal advice from the Virginia Attorney General on this matter. They agreed that all local sheriff’s offices have the authority to do this.

Does the Sheriff’s Office hold individuals wanted by ICE beyond their state release date?

No. A judicial warrant is required to hold anyone beyond their state release date.

Is a judicial warrant required to transfer custody to ICE?

No. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office honors the administrative arrest warrant from ICE (I-200) which serves as a detainer. A detainer allows a law enforcement agency to hold and transfer custody of wanted individuals to other law enforcement agencies.

Does the Sheriff’s Office have a contract with ICE?

No. The Sheriff’s Office does not have a contract with ICE and does not assist them with enforcement of immigration law. 

What arrangements does the Sheriff’s Office have with the federal government?

The Sheriff’s Office has an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service to house federal inmates at the local jail. In emergency situations, an addition to this agreement provides ICE with limited overnight bed space to house inmates already in ICE custody.

This agreement has nothing to do with the Sheriff’s Office’s requirement to transfer custody of local inmates wanted by ICE.

What direction has the Sheriff’s Office received from the City Attorney and Virginia Attorney General?

In early 2018, then City Attorney Jim Banks addressed the validity of the I-200 in detaining an individual beyond their state release date. The Alexandria Sheriff’s Office does not hold individuals beyond their release date without a judicial warrant, so this question is no longer relevant.

Mr. Banks never questioned nor addressed whether the Sheriff’s Office has the authority to transfer individuals to ICE. Mr. Banks never said that the Sheriff could require a judicial warrant to transfer custody.

The Virginia Office of the Attorney General has advised Sheriff Lawhorne that the I-200 is a lawful order.

While the Sheriff’s Office values the City Attorney’s guidance, the City Attorney does not serve as formal legal counsel for the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office; the Virginia Attorney General does and any questions regarding the Sheriff’s Office’s authority in this matter should be directed to the state Office of the Attorney General for an opinion.

How many inmates have been transferred to ICE in recent years?

2012 -- 147
2013 -- 119
2014 -- 96
2015 -- 50
2016 -- 56
2017 -- 105
2018 -- 68  (as of October 31, 2018)

What types of crimes were individuals transferred to ICE originally arrested for?

Looking at cases from 2018, nearly 93% were in custody after being arrested for serious offenses. View the complete list of charges.