DECEMBER 12, 2007
Weeks after a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against a suburban Virginia county for cracking down on illegal immigration the state’s civil rights commission is scrutinizing the measures while the federal government rejects a portion of the plan that allows all law enforcement agencies within the county to screen illegal aliens.
Officials in Prince William County, with a population of nearly 300,000, adopted a resolution in July to deny taxpayer-funded county services to illegal immigrants and require police to check the immigration status of all detained suspects. As has been the case nationwide, the laws were challenged in court by illegal immigrant advocates.
In this case, however, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit which claimed that the measures are discriminatory against all Hispanics. On the heels of that crucial court victory, Prince William County faces yet another pair of obstacles before it can finally begin implementing its new laws.
This week the Virginia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will be in town to “examine” what it calls the “anti-illegal immigration resolution" recently passed by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. Evidently, committee chairwoman Linda Chavez is deeply concerned about the county’s emergence onto the national scene over the resolution and the impact it will have on all immigrants.
Additionally, federal immigration officials have presented an obstacle by rejecting the portion of the new law that involves local police. It proposes to allow four local law enforcement agencies within Prince William County to work together to screen illegal immigrants. Federal authorities are making it tougher for them by requiring that the individual agencies—three city police departments and the county sheriff—apply for and undergo Immigration and Customs Enforcement training individually.
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