There is much uncertainty today for Arlington County; we are left with more questions than answers about potential impacts to our collective future. Collectively, I believe the sound planning, and sophistication and adaptability of our staff and citizenry will allow Arlington’s economy and institutions to navigate the coming days as we have other major economic and political events in the past.
But for some members of our community, uncertainty is tinged with fear. It is colored with a particular worry about their own safety and those of their family members. Public safety in Arlington County is our responsibility as local government. Not only to strive for a low crime rate and an excellent police force, but to ensure that all members of our community know that their leaders will continue to stand up for their safety, no matter what is to come.
So, I take this opportunity now to reaffirm what has long been a hallmark of Arlington: Inclusion and protection of our diversity, and of our residents.
I reaffirm my commitment to the safety of our immigrant neighbors, emphasizing, as this Board did earlier in 2016, that all residents and visitors of Arlington County have the right to public safety protection; that it is our long-standing policy that Arlington County law enforcement has not and will not monitor, detain, interview, or investigate a person solely for the purpose of determining their immigration status; that the services we provide – including public transit, education, access to parks and to libraries – are not restricted based on immigration status.
I underscore our legacy as a welcoming home to refugees from all over the world, as the Board did in 2015, and emphasize now as the Board did then that “responding to today’s urgent humanitarian crises by serving as a new home for those seeking refuge is in keeping with our national and local traditions.”
I elevate our tradition of interfaith engagement, and the belief not just of our government but of our neighborhoods, schools and religious institutions that Muslim-Americans are respected members of our community.
I reaffirm Arlington’s longstanding public policies in support of our lesbian and gay community, and our transgender community, policies that have not only aimed to achieve nondiscrimination but affirmative support for our LGBT neighbors, employees and families, such as efforts to establish domestic partner benefits.
And I affirm a personal commitment to the safety of women in our community, that no matter the national context, Arlington will be a community that continues to ensure that survivors of gender violence are met here with dignity, compassion and a path to seek justice.
In this time of uncertainty, and for us as Arlington’s elected leaders, these longstanding commitments to the safety of our residents must be unwavering. I reaffirm them today.