The nation's capital has officially become the latest safe haven for illegal immigrants.
District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray on Wednesday signed an executive order instructing police officers not to question people about their immigration status -- even people who are arrested on other matters -- unless immigration status is directly related to a criminal investigation.
"This executive order ensures public safety by ensuring that our police resources are deployed wisely and our immigrant communities feel safe cooperating with those who are sworn to protect them," Gray said in a statement.
"The district is home to thousands of immigrants," he added. "If they are afraid to cooperate with authorities on criminal investigations because they fear it might endanger their presence in the United States or the presence of a loved one, then it endangers their public safety and that of our entire city."
Although district officials say the order only confirms a longstanding policy, critics still blasted the move.
"This is an abomination," said Corey Stewart, the Republican chairman-at-large of Prince William County of Virginia, which is about 25 miles south of D.C. Stewart's county has sued the Department of Homeland Security twice, seeking information on 4,000 illegal immigrants that the county has arrested and turned over to Homeland Security for deportation.