Coronavirus Hot Spot in Alexandria Endangers Entire Community At-Large

Alexandria, Va. - Today at 1 p.m., Tenants and Workers United (TWU) along with New Virginia Majority (NVM) will call on Governor Northam via Zoom to provide 10,000 tests over the next ten days to begin to accurately assess and address the spread of the virus, housing solutions to safely isolate, and the medical needs of the Arlandria neighborhood in Alexandria.  

Arlandria is primarily Latino, and as of yesterday 55% of the 572 tests given in Arlandria were positive. This rate of infection in this community of 16,000 is equivalent to global hot spot areas such as Queens, New York, Wuhan, China and Milan, Italy. Only concerted government action will control this outbreak, save lives and prevent even further community spread.

Evelin Urrutia, executive director of TWU said, "in our community, testing a person, finding them sick with coronavirus and then sending them back to a one-bedroom apartment where four other people live is a potential death sentence, and at the [very] least a formula for wider community spread. Arlandria residents need to work to survive...most work in construction, care and service [industries] and this community spread, if not addressed, will surely impact the entire region.”

Jon Liss, co-executive director of NVM, joins TWU in calling for the governor to immediately address what is happening in the Arlandria community. "Before the governor considers reopening the state he needs to leave the governor's mansion and see what is happening here. Without thousands of tests, access to isolated housing, and medical treatment, Arlandria residents face more illness and for some, death," said Liss.

To join the Zoom press conference or speak with staff, contact Debra Freeman at 757-452-1143 or [email protected]


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Alexandria Sheriff Moves to Reduce Collaboration with ICE, But More Is Needed: Alexandria Jail Must Sever Ties With ICE

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2018

Contact: Mia Taylor, [email protected], 571-269-8107
Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, [email protected], 703-720-5605


ALEXANDRIA, VA: Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne’s recent commitment to reduce collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a positive step forward, but more changes are needed in order to live up to the City’s Statement on Inclusiveness.

Sheriff Lawhorne announced yesterday that for immigrants serving a sentence imposed by a judge, his jail will no longer honor ICE requests to hold them past their scheduled release dates.  For immigrants ordered released on bond, or eligible for release after time served, the jail will only hold them for 16 hours for ICE (or up to 24 hours in extenuating circumstances), no matter what day of the week. Sheriff Lawhorne will also institute timekeeping policies and regular weekly audits to make sure no one is held beyond the time allowed under this new policy.

Previously, the jail would honor ICE requests to hold both pretrial and post-conviction immigrant detainees for up to two business days past their scheduled release dates, not including weekends and holidays. In 2017, the Alexandria City Jail turned over 105 people to ICE, up nearly double from 2016.  More than half of those were merely awaiting trial and had not been convicted of a crime. Alexandria also allows ICE to use its jail as a short-term holding facility for immigrants arrested anywhere at all, a practice which will not change after yesterday’s announcement.

“Thank you, Sheriff, for your willingness to engage with the community and revisit your practices. We are encouraged that you describe this as a ‘first step.’ And it is a step in the right direction,” said Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg, legal director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program. “But 16 extra hours in jail for immigrants is still 16 hours too long. Immigrants should be treated no differently than citizens: after they post bail, they should be allowed to walk out the front door.”

“There is no law that compels the jail to transfer people to ICE,” said Mia Taylor, organizer with Tenants and Workers United.  “Local law enforcement should not be enforcing the laws of a broken federal immigration system.”

“We are hearing a tremendous outpouring of concern from our friends and neighbors in Alexandria,” said Jonathan Krall from Grassroots Alexandria. “The jail is one place where we have the power to make a change.”

On June 18, Alexandria’s other jail, the Northern Virginia Regional Juvenile Detention Center, announced that, effective September, it will stop renting beds to the federal government to detain unaccompanied immigrant children.  But with yesterday’s announcement, the Alexandria Adult Detention Center will continue to act as a short-term holding facility for ICE, both for immigrants arrested by local police in Alexandria and for immigrants arrested by ICE anywhere else.

ICE has come under fire for inhumane tactics including racial profiling, warrantless entry into homes, and the breaking up of families. The time has come for Alexandria to entirely sever ties with that agency.

* * *

Tenants and Workers United builds power in low-income, immigrant communities of color to improve the quality of our lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues they care about.

Legal Aid Justice Center is a statewide Virginia nonprofit organization whose mission is to strengthen the voices of low-income communities and root out the inequities that keep people in poverty.  We provide legal support to immigrant communities facing legal crises, and use advocacy and impact litigation to fight back against ICE enforcement and detention abuses.  Our ‘De-ICE Virginia’ campaign seeks to sever the ties between local law enforcement and ICE.

Grassroots Alexandria promotes local, non-partisan, long-term conversations, community education and action towards positive solutions by those who are moved to act on their conscience.

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Alexandria Schools Host Restorative Practices Forum Exploring New Middle School Discipline Data

October 26, 2017

CONTACT: Ingris Moran, [email protected]

Community members call for formal plan to implement expansion of restorative justice programs to middle schools as new data is presented about middle school discipline

ALEXANDRIA, VA – On Wednesday, Tenants and Workers United, (TWU) in partnership with Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the Alexandria Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Advancement Project, hosted a community forum exploring student discipline policies and the implementation of restorative practices in city schools.
During the forum, ACPS leadership explored new discipline data and discussed next steps in reducing suspensions at the middle school level. The event marked the district’s response to community pressure and a multi-year restorative justice campaign, led by Tenants and Workers United and the Alexandria NAACP, highlighting persistent racial discipline disparities between students of color and their white counterparts. The positive impact of restorative justice programming at T.C. Williams High School has spurred advocates to urge the program’s extension into ACPS middle schools where suspension levels remain the highest. Attendees also explored how ACPS can build upon initial progress from school discipline reforms for all students.

 “We have seen a lot of changes ACPS, not only in restorative programming, but also in staffing,” said Evelin Urrutia, executive director of Tenants and Workers United. “While we are really excited to see the progress, we also know there is a long way to go to ensure restorative practices are implemented right. We need a formal plan. At the end of the day, we are serving students. We must work collaboratively to ensure that every student has the same opportunity and show that it doesn’t matter where you come from or what color you are, you will get the education you deserve.’’  

 “The students that are getting suspended more are Black and Hispanic…and just for small reasons,” said Gabriel Palma Moran, a student at George Washington Middle School and a youth member of TWU who was in attendance with his grandmother Dina Martinez. “One concern I have as a student is how much time would it takes us to expand restorative justice in middle school.”

“I have always come to these meetings because I disagree with taking kids out of school,” said Gabriel’s grandmother, Dina Martinez. “When I came to this country, I had a friend, a young girl named Juanita, and Carlitos, now they’re adults, but they kicked them out of George Washington. I love them like my own because I took care of them. They felt really bad because they had been kicked out, and it was hard for them to keep up with their work, but they let them back in, and thank God they passed the grade and graduated.”

Ingris Moran, Lead Organizer for Tenants and Workers United, added: “We are grateful to have had this forum to discuss the very important issue of restorative practices in city schools and the need to expand and formally implement these practices in middle schools.”


Tenants and Workers United builds power of low-income communities of color – primarily immigrants – to create changes that positively impact the quality of our lives in Northern Virginia. We organize and support people to be agents of change in their own lives by addressing the issues they care about.




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