Let’s All Stand Up for Alexandrians

by the Grassroots Alexandria Steering Committee (Zeina Azzam, Opal Boyer, Lisa Friday, Jonathan Krall)

The joint Tenants and Workers United/Grassroots Alexandria effort to keep ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) out of the Alexandria jail continues. Our volunteers have reached out to our local sheriff, to city council, and to our leaders in Richmond. We have learned that both the Alexandria sheriff and city manager are signatories to the agreement that allows ICE to use our jail to detain undocumented Alexandrians. We have learned that ICE issues warrants without judicial oversight. The public debate has been heated. Some who oppose us have resorted to personal pressure tactics, making disparaging statements about individual Grassroots Alexandria volunteers. In the face of personal attacks, the appropriate course of action is to redouble our efforts, focusing on issues instead of on individuals. The Grassroots Alexandria mission is to teach and practice democracy in Alexandria for the benefit of all Alexandrians, especially the most vulnerable among us. We will not back down.

Our values are expressed in our mission statement. “Grassroots Alexandria works to protect the rights of all our neighbors. We strive to learn from each other’s diversity. We practice non-violence. We believe in leading without ego. In our political action we look at policies and practices, rather than personalities and people, to make the most effective and positive impact.”

Our work is personal in that we help individual Alexandrians engage politically for the benefit of their friends and neighbors. As an individual, you can help.

To get ICE out of our local jail, we have two specific “asks.” To take action, click here or write to city council.

1. We ask that the City of Alexandria end its intergovernmental agreement with ICE, as other cities have done. Our contract with ICE allows it to be ended by either party at any time.

2. We ask that the Alexandria sheriff require a judicial warrant whenever a person is transferred to ICE custody. On March 17, 2018, in a public hearing, the Alexandria city attorney opined that the sheriff has the power to do so (see video beginning at minute 33).

According to our sheriff, over half of the people transferred to ICE are transferred before a trial, without being convicted of a crime. As the White House grants more power to ICE, our neighbors in TWU receive an increasing number of calls for help. To learn more about these issues, click here or attend the upcoming public meeting.

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