ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga discusses a lawsuit filed against Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins and the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors Tuesday at Yowell Meadow Park. 


The ACLU of Virginia sued Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins and the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors Tuesday over an “unauthorized agreement” to use county resources to enforce federal immigration laws.

The lawsuit centers around Jenkins decision to enter into a the 287(g) contract with the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement that allows sheriff’s deputies to perform certain functions of ICE officers, including detaining them as if in ICE custody. The program is run through the Culpeper County jail.

A group of nearly 20 people - about half of them Culpeper locals - listened as ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga discuss the lawsuit.

“The purpose of this lawsuit is to force Sheriff Jenkins to withdraw from his agreement with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement which is harming the community he was elected to serve and protect,” she said.

According to the ACLU, Virginia is a “Dillon Rule” state, meaning local governments only have authority to take actions specifically authorized by the state Constitution or legislature. Neither authorizes localities or constitutional officers to voluntarily take on the responsibility to enforce federal immigration law directly or to spend local tax revenues to do so.

According to Gastanaga, the U.S. Constitution also protects immigrants who are not documented.

“They are entitled to the same constitutional rights,” she said.

The lawsuit was filed by Michael V. McClary and Christina Stockton against Jenkins and the Board of Supervisors as a result of a pro bono partnership between the ACLU of Virginia and McGuire Woods LLP. Jenkins is identified as a defendant in the lawsuit because he was the local official who entered into the 287(g) agreement and the BOS is a defendant because it allocates funding to the sheriff’s office.

“I think this is ridiculous, I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t believe they did this,” Culpeper County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Chase said.

The ACLU contends that the program is not “free” as Jenkins has maintained.

“While ICE does pay for expenses for training officers and some other direct costs, there is no question that local dollars still into play by, among other things, paying for the salaries and benefits of officers who are under direct and exclusive federal control,” ACLU of Virginia Legal Director Eden Heilman said.

Gastanaga could not say how many residents have been affected by the 287(g) program or how many officers have been trained under the program.

“The purpose of this litigation is to uphold the rule of law,” Gastanga said. “Culpeper officials will be prevented from engaging in acts not authorized by state law that make everyone in the community less safe by diverting scare criminal law enforcement resources to federal civil immigration law enforcement.”

Donna DeAngelis, of the Culpeper Persisters, praised the ACLU of Virginia for bringing the lawsuit forward.

“Culpeper is a lovely community,” she said. “We are growing not only in size, but in diversity. We support our Hispanic neighbors.”

Jenkins also faces a federal class-action civil lawsuit brought by the Legal Aid Justice Center and Victor M. Glasberg and Associates.

In that lawsuit, Francisco Guardado Rios, the plaintiff in the class action, claims that he was held in the Culpeper County jail past the date he had been ordered released without any legal authority to do so.

According to the lawsuit, Guardado Rios was initially legally incarcerated in the jail on state misdemeanor charges, was awaiting his trial and should have been released from custody. He was granted a $1,000 bail, but according to the lawsuit Sheriff Jenkins refused to release him.

Gastanaga said that the 287(g) program instills fear in the community.

“Culpeper residents need to know that these agreements actually make communities less safe,” Heilman said. “They create fear among immigrants, documented or undocumented, that reporting crimes or otherwise cooperating with law enforcement as a victim or witness will lead to their status being questioned and ultimately deported.”


(5) comments


Preach this fake, phony crap somewhere else.

The U.S. Constitution does not protect undocumented immigrants and it damn sure as hell does not entitle them any of our constitutional rights!

The purpose of our Constitution is to protect we the people, American Citizens from any kind of abuse to them by their government. That includes protection from a bunch of know-it-all people armed with fancy lawyers that try to get away with sneaky dirty tricks like trying to force law officers to stop upholding the Constitution by throwing criminals in jail or deporting them back to their own country if they are in America illegally.


Once again, CCW displays either his ignorance or his inability to understand how things really work. Sorry to burst your bubble, but the Constitution does in fact protect ALL people in this country, not just white conservatives such as yourself. This issue was decided by the Supreme Court well over 100 years ago. Maybe you should do a little research before spouting off another one of your asinine conspiracy theories. But I guess your hatred for all non-white persons, and particularly the Hispanic community, just blinds you from the truth. Or maybe you're just trying to emulate your hero Trump the Treasonweasel by spouting complete lies and falsehoods and expecting people to believe them. Either way, gibberish like this is tiresome.

Constitutional Patriot

There was another comment as a response to CCW...that I wanted to comment on. They provided a link to an article on pproving the words in the 14th Ammendment provided protections to undocumented immigrants.
It calls for equal protection under the law. It doesn't exempt them from it. Federal law makes it illegal to be in this country without a valid visa, it makes it illegal to be working in this country without a work visa, and it makes it illegal to enter this country without alerting our goverment to your presence. All of which means that the federal authorities have every right and responsibility to identify, arrest, detain, and try undocumented immigrants for this crime.

The success of this law suit will be determined by the Virginia constitution and Virginia law as this was filed in VA and not as a federal law suit. This suit doesn't appear to be about the 20 people mentioned. This appears to be an attempt to put pursue on counties ttyl make them afraid to do what is right, to by defacto make Virginia a sanctuary state or at a minimum crate defacto sanctuary cities and counties by fear.


You correctly zeroed in on what the Constitution (and it's amendments) say. The only applicable illegal immigrant's rights guaranteed by our government cover permissible civil behavior by anyone in our country be they citizens or not. (Drive slow see our town, drive fast see our jail.)

The Constitution explicitly states that a person must be subject to the jurisdiction of our country for any of America's Constitutionally guaranteed rights apply to them. That does not mean the green card carriers are covered either. When immigrants are inside our nation illegally, excepting civil behavior they are not entitled to any of America's rights. This also applies to the popular concept of birther's rights where if a woman is on American soil and gives birth to a child that means that child is automatically an American citizen. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Once again one of the key and essential purposes of the Constitution is it is there to "protect" American citizens from their own government's power. It is not there to serve as a convenient way for illegal, undocumented immigrants to have their way by legal force.

JJ Reynolds

All such prior lawsuits have failed in Virginia.

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