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A Virginia Sheriff Protects the Public; a Maryland County Official Endangers Them

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Haven Daley, File

Local officials who try to obstruct federal immigration enforcement should be condemned for endangering the public, while those who assist the federal government in ridding their communities of dangerous, criminal aliens should be commended.


Contrast the latest horrific news from Montgomery County, Maryland, a sanctuary jurisdiction, with what’s happening in Culpeper County, Virginia, whose sheriff, Scott Jenkins, makes public safety – as opposed to political correctness – his number-one priority.

Most Americans agree on what should be done about illegal aliens who break local criminal laws. Once they’ve served their time, they should be removed from the country, rather than sent back into the community where they can commit more crimes.

But that’s not what they do in Montgomery County. Just days after the county executive, Marc Elrich, issued an executive order prohibiting county employees from asking anyone about their immigration status and banning Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from all county jails, two illegal aliens from El Salvador were arrested for repeatedly raping an 11-year-old girl. This is the same Marc Elrich who says Pres. Trump’s enforcement of our immigration laws meets “the definition of terrorism.”

According to WJLA, the local ABC affiliate in Washington, D.C., Elrich was actually grinning at his press conference when he gleefully said that he couldn’t do anything about ICE waiting outside the jail house door for criminal aliens being released. But he promised that if ICE asked Montgomery County to hold criminal aliens with “anything other than a judicial order, then we’re not holding them.”

Contrast Elrich’s reckless and dangerous policy with that of Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins. He cooperates with the federal government and honors federal immigration detainer warrants issued by the Department of Homeland Security on illegal aliens who are being held in his jail because they’ve been arrested for local crimes. Liberals like Elrich hate this, which is why Jenkins was recently sued by the Legal Aid Justice Center of Falls Church for holding a criminal illegal alien until he could be picked up and deported by ICE.


Thankfully, a federal judge has now thrown out that suit.

In August 2017, Francisco Guardado Rios was arrested in Culpeper County for driving without a license and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Jenkins received an administrative detainer from ICE asking that ICE be notified at least 48 hours before Rios’s release, and requesting that the jail also maintain custody of the illegal alien for no more than 48 hours so ICE agents could pick him up.

After serving his sentence, Rios was held for an additional two days by Jenkins before being turned over to ICE agents. Rios claimed that being held in custody after completing his sentence violated his constitutional rights, and he alleged that Jenkins had held nearly 100 other illegal aliens past their release dates in 2017 and 2018, based on ICE detainers. Good for Jenkins.

Senior U.S. District Judge Glen E. Conrad ruled, however, that Jenkins acted lawfully in cooperating with ICE. The court held that while local authorities can’t arrest an illegal alien based solely on an immigration charge, they can hold an alien who’s been arrested for committing a local crime if they get “federal direction or authorization” to hold the alien. And Jenkins had that.

When local jurisdictions refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities, they create de facto sanctuaries for criminals like Francisco Guardado Rios. That is exactly what Montgomery County is doing.

As Frank Madrigal, the deputy director of the Baltimore ICE office says, Montgomery County is “basically making itself into a safe haven for a criminal element.” If you “want to commit crimes” and you are here illegally, than Montgomery County is the place to go because you will “have a better opportunity to commit crimes without risk” or “facing the consequences.”


It makes no sense to release criminal aliens back into the community where they can commit more crimes. Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins understands that. Unfortunately for the citizens of Montgomery County, Marc Elrich does not.

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He is co-author of“Who’s Counting? How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”and“Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”


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