The Fairfax County Republican Party and its candidates have been trying to villainize immigrants throughout this year’s campaign in a desperate attempt to score political points and win a few votes. On Tuesday, for instance, Elizabeth Schultz said immigrants were creating “a health crisis” by bringing diseases into Fairfax County Public Schools. Now Ed Martin is joining the crusade against immigrants by claiming they bring gangs and crime into Fairfax County.
During a forum on Wednesday evening hosted by the McLean Citizens Association for candidates running for the Dranesville seat on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, candidates were asked if they’d support an ordinance that would limit the amount of interaction local law enforcement has with ICE.
Martin not only said he’d oppose the ordinance, but almost immediately brought up gangs such as MS13 — a common tactic Republicans use to scare people into thinking immigrants are bad. It’s such a commonly used tactic that Linda Sperling actually had to call out Pat Herrity a few weeks ago when he tried to use the line of attack during a forum hosted by the Springfield District Council.
“We have gangs in Fairfax — MS13. We have a problem with illegal immigration and crime,” Martin said. “Not illegal immigration among people that we know or want to respect or whatever, but crime. And we have a problem.”
It’s very noticeable that he didn’t want you to think we have immigrants in Fairfax County who are providing positive contributions to our community. He specifically said that immigrants coming aren’t bringing “people that we know or want to respect or whatever, but crime.” In other words, he was pulling a page straight from President Trump’s playbook by channeling the president’s remarks about Mexico only sending over rapists and murders.
He went on to claim Montgomery County, which is right across the border in Maryland, is experimenting with “lawlessness.” The statement was an obvious attempt to imply Montgomery’s an extremely unsafe place to live even though it’s one of the wealthiest counties in the country, has a low crime rate for a jurisdiction its size, and is home to a diverse and successful group of residents.
“We have to keep ourselves safe,” Martin claimed. “Let Montgomery County and other counties experiment with allowing lawlessness. In our county, let’s put no one above the law and lets enforce all the laws.”
Of course, he couldn’t just stop with implying our neighboring jurisdiction is overflowing with crime. Martin went on to say enormous amounts of these imaginary criminals were going to invade our community if liberals have their way and Fairfax continues welcoming the immigrant community.
“If you don’t think the crime will come to your neighborhood, and that’s sometimes how people feel,” Martin added, “you just have to have one conversation with law enforcement about what’s happening in our schools, and what’s happening with gangs, and realize that this doesn’t stay on the border of x district or y district. It comes across really quickly.”
Thankfully, Supervisor John Foust was on top of the issue and reminded the audience about Fairfax being one of the safest jurisdictions of its size in the entire country. Since we don’t live in the fantasy land of a 1960’s style TV show, there’s obviously going to be some crime in every community. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth of the matter. That being said, Fairfax has proven to be one of the safest communities in the country and John highlighted how we have a dedicated police force that is helping ensure that continues.
“I respect the job that our police force is doing,” Supervisor Foust said. “They are not exposing us to some horrendous criminal element that has been fabricated in Mr. Martin’s mind. We have a very safe jurisdiction.”
Fairfax is safe in part due to most members of the community trusting law enforcement and believing police officers truly work to serve the best interests of all Fairfax residents. As many folks have highlighted, however, forcing local law enforcement to implement President Trump’s extreme immigration policies and take on ICE’s job duties could harm an officer’s ability to build strong relationships with the communities they’re supposed to serve and protect. John hinted at this as he mentioned it’s our county’s diversity that plays a role in keeping Fairfax safe.
“One of the reasons we have very little crime in Fairfax County is because we are open to immigrants. We are open to diversity,” John said while showing some passion. “We welcome people in and incorporate and include them into our communities. We don’t demonize them. We don’t try to focus on them and point to them and make them a problem that we all gather around to solve. Because they’re not a problem. We have an amazing immigrant community in Fairfax County.”
All in all, it was very obvious that the candidates had distinctly different positions regarding an ordinance limiting local law enforcement’s interaction with ICE. Supervisor Foust supported it and believe law enforcement should be focused in on serving the community and embracing diversity. Ed Martin, however, opposed the ordinance and tried to use gangs and crime to scare people into supporting his candidacy.