A Virginia officer has been suspended for cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement by turning over an illegal immigrant he encountered during a traffic stop.

The case began as the officer came across someone without a driver’s license while working a traffic accident in the Huntington section of the county on Sept. 21. When the officer ran the name it returned a flag from ICE, which said the migrant was a fugitive after failing to appear for a deportation hearing, according to The Washington Times

The officer then called the ICE after checking with the county’s own system and an ICE employee responded.

However, the officer’s actions caused Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin C. Roessler Jr. to get angry. Chief Roessler said on Tuesday, Oct. 1, that he found it unacceptable for an officer in this department “deprived a person of their freedom” by cooperating with ICE.

“Our county is one of the most diverse counties in the nation and no one should have the perception that FCPD is acting as a civil immigration agent for ICE,” he said in a statement.

He then added that such move broke department policy, which says officers should not bother to confirm administrative warrants through the county’s system. The majority of administrative warrants are from ICE.

“This matter damages our reputation and the longstanding policy that I have stated many times that our officers shall not act as immigration agents,” the chief said. “The officer involved in this event has been relieved of all law enforcement duties pending the outcome of this investigation.”

On the other side, Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said Fairfax police intended to “shame” the officer. 

“The police chief is ordering an investigation of an officer who did exactly the right thing by responding to an active ICE warrant on an illegal alien who was a fugitive,” she said. “It’s astonishing that a police chief is more intent on punishing his officer than seeing to it that legitimate laws are enforced.”

Vaughan opposed the police department’s suggestion that the county officer was acting as an agent of ICE and that would not be true in other counties, such as its neighboring Montgomery County, in Maryland.

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