Supervisor Yesli Vega has proposed nominating former Trump aide John Zadrozny to the county’s regional jail board because of his support for the county’s agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as 287(g).
Vega, R-Coles, announced her intent to appoint Zadrozny, a Bristow resident, to the jail board during the board’s meeting Tuesday. In response, Board Chair Ann Wheeler, D-At Large, said the appointment of new jail board members would be made by the full board rather than by individual supervisors.
Zadrozny is acting chief of staff of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and a close ally of controversial Trump senior advisor Stephen Miller.
Zadrozny served as special assistant to President Donald Trump on the White House Domestic Policy Council from 2017 until 2019. He joined the state department in July 2019 and now works under USCIS acting Director Ken Cuccinelli.
The White House Domestic Policy Council aided in scaling back the number of U.S. refugee admissions to record lows during the first two years of the Trump’s presidency. In July 2019, Zadrozny reportedly proposed slashing the number of U.S. refugee admissions to zero.
Vega said in an email Wednesday that Zadrozny was recommended to her by a private citizen as someone who was willing to serve on the jail board and wanted to keep the county’s 287(g) agreement in place. But said she was unaware of his connections to the Trump administration.
“While Mr. Zadrozny’s position on 287(g) was made clear to me, I was unaware of his connections to the Trump Administration,” Vega said. “In fact, I had to google [Stephen] Miller’s name to even know who you were referencing.”
The proposed appointment comes ahead of a potential standoff between supervisors over the selection of new jail board members who will decide whether or not the county will renew its 287(g) agreement before it expires on July 1.
The purpose of the 287(g) agreement is to identify undocumented people who are charged with crimes and allows the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center to deputize some of its officers as ICE agents to access federal immigration databases and refer inmates to ICE.
Prince William and Culpeper counties are the only two Virginia localities that currently hold 287(g) agreements with ICE.
Zadrozny could not be reached for comment.
During the Jan. 14 meeting, the board deferred its discussion on the new jail board appointments to a later date. The county’s 10-member regional jail board must decide later this year whether it will renew the county’s 287(g) agreement.
Vega, a former Prince William County Sheriff’s Deputy and the county’s first Latina supervisor, is an outspoken supporter of the 287(g) agreement. She has said in the past that ending the 287(g) agreement would put the county’s immigrant communities at the “greatest risk of danger.”
“Throughout the last campaign, I made public safety and preserving the 287(g) program a priority to help keep our communities safe, particularly for those residing in the same type of immigrant neighborhoods I grew up in, where the criminals subject to the agreement commit the vast majority of their crimes,” Vega said in an email.
Newly elected Democratic supervisors, who have a 5-3 majority on the board, have said they will seek to end the agreement. In a December interview with Prince William Times, Supervisor Margaret Angela Franklin, D-Woodbridge, called the agreement a divisive policy that had “no place in our community.”
CASA in Action, the Mid-Atlantic region's largest immigrant rights organization, and the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union have also called for an end to the program.
Newly elected Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth (D), who was working in the commonwealth’s attorney’s special victims’ unit when the county’s ICE agreement went into effect in 2008, said the county’s ICE agreement does not ensure public safety for county residents.
“We created an entire class of people, namely immigrants -- some legal, some not legal -- that were afraid to come forward and report crimes, and I knew this because they found their way into my office in the special victims’ unit,” Ashworth said at a September candidates’ forum.
Under the board of supervisors’ current rules, supervisors can appoint three at-large citizen members to the jail board. The other seven positions are filled by criminal justice officials, including Ashworth, Prince William County Police Chief Barry Barnard and Sheriff Glen Hill. Hill, a Republican who was elected to a fifth term last November, supports the 287(g) agreement.
After Vega announced Zadrozny as her nominee to the jail board during the Jan. 14 meeting, supervisors discussed the process for appointing jail board members as well as steps that could be taken to change the makeup of its membership. County Attorney Michelle Robl said according to Virginia law, only the county sheriff is mandated to sit on the jail board.
“The rest of the appointments are discretionary. The board can certainly change those designations,” Robl said.
Whether Prince William retains its 287(g) agreement will likely depend on whom the board of county supervisors appoints to the jail board. Such at-large appointments are typically coordinated with supervisors through the chair’s office, according to county staff.
During the meeting, Wheeler said she supports the jail board’s current membership consisting primarily of county criminal justice and law enforcement officials.
“Those people know about law enforcement. I really respect the fact that they’re on the board for a reason,” Wheeler said. “We can definitely revisit this at a later time.”
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