ice, ice, baby herndon

Residents of Herndon are still fighting about how best to deal with a growing Hispanic (and supposedly illegal) immigrant population. It wasn’t too long ago that Wayan wrote about the hypocrisy of Herndon’s Day Labor Site controversy. Earlier this month, alert reader Marlene forwarded an article published by WTOP when Mayor Stephen DeBenedittis and five Council members approved a resolution supporting Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) training for members of the Herndon Police Department.

According to WTOP, if ICE approves the request, Herndon Police officers "would be able to process and detain illegal immigrants identified during criminal investigations so they could be handed over to ICE for possible prosecution or deportation."

Granted, the underlying racism that has pushed this issue to the forefront of the Herndon political scene is likely to go unmentioned.

"’The town has no issue with immigrants. The town has issues with illegal aliens,’ says Herndon Vice Mayor Dennis D. Husch. Husch has no clue how many illegal aliens may live in Herndon, a town of 23,000." (my emphasis added)

But with news breaking today about the search for a local Hispanic male suspected of attacking a Harpers Ferry woman, radical members of the Minutemen of Herndon, and other supporters of the resolution, are likely to say the Council’s action was timely – particularly if anyone arrested as a suspect (who cares about the presumption of innocence) is an illegal alien. Advocates will defend the resolution like Jeff Tally, a member of the Minutmen, who is behind the resolution because "the federal government has been completely inept at dealing with this issue, so it’s up to the locales to deal with the illegal immigration issue – This is a tool to deal with it."

I would argue the opposite – the current search for a suspect demonstrates why this resolution is a bad idea – whether or not it appears to be founded on a racist paradigm. My position is best articulated in a Herndon Current article that quotes Jorge Rochac, a local businessmen and vocal critic of the ICE resolution because of its unintended impacts on relationships between the Hispanic community and the local police:

"’The thing that people don’t understand is that eight out of 10 families in this town are legal, but have that one person who is illegal or in the process of getting their citizenship who is living with them,’ said Rochac, who has worked in the past as a translator for the Herndon Police Department. ‘Do you think that these people are going to invite police officers into their home if they have Tio Mateo [Uncle Mateo] who is here without papers living in the basement?’"

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