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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 04/29/2010

What will happen in Arizona? Look at Prince William

By Paige Winfield Cunningham

Arizona's freshly signed immigration law isn't anything new for residents of Prince William County.

Three years ago, PW became an epicenter of the immigration debate when the county board authorized police to check immigration status at all criminal arrests. While PW's law isn't as broad as Arizona's -- where police now only need "reasonable suspicion" to check a person's immigration status -- it raised similar questions about the impact on communities of legal immigrants, Hispanics in particular.

After the policy was passed, initial reports offered some evidence that immigrants were fleeing PW for Arlington, Fairfax and Alexandria. The evidence was based on enrollment in ESL classes, which dropped abnormally by 760 in the 2007-08 school year, considering the number had been growing by 1,500 a year.

So what's happened since? How has PW's policy affected the desire of immigrants to make the county their home? A few findings to consider:

-- In 2005, 97 percent of Hispanics reported satisfaction with the police. That dropped to 73 percent in 2008, according to a University of Virginia study.

-- Out of 12,839 criminal arrests in PW in 2009, only 6 percent were of illegal immigrants.

-- After the initial drop, ESL enrollment increased by 867 students for the 2009-10 school year.

Paige Winfield Cunningham is an investigative reporter and managing editor at Old Dominion Watchdog . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By Paige Winfield Cunningham  | April 29, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Local blog network, Prince William County, Virginia  
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I would dispute that the DC area and Arizona, a Mexican border state, are analogous. Arizona is the gateway for millions of illegal immigrants to the USA and is epicenter for the resulting crime and social issues. SB1070 makes in the Arizona as an illegal immigrant a misdemeanor subject to prison and fine. Unless the Courts intervene, SB1070 is a powerful tool for dissuading illegals from staying in Arizona, but I agree, it remains to be seen if it works. What this whole country really need is a policy as efficacious as Eisenhower's "Operation Wetback".

Posted by: ScottD2 | April 29, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I have to show my Drivers license to police to show identity or my birth certificate to prove my citizenship. Therefore, why are immigrant any different? Hopefully the illegal immigrant population will decide to stay home. They want to live in America but not Be AMERICAN!! Way to go Arizona. Obama you could learn something here.

Posted by: sprtnutz52 | April 29, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

To have this law effective across the whole state of Arizona, all police departments have to be authorized by I.C.E. (Immigration & Customs Enforcements) and have certain and individual police officers authorized to have access to I.C.E. database system to check on somebody's immigration status. Also, the law enforcement process can not have any room for discrimination and racial profiling.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | April 29, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

"Out of 12,839 criminal arrests in PW in 2009, only 6 percent were of illegal immigrants."

The reason for this is simple. Illegals have fled the county for so called 'safe haven' districts.

Good luck Arizona ... I can only hope others will follow and do what the federal government should have been doing all along.

Prince William County, Va showed them the way and they should be proud.

Posted by: vmj55 | April 29, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

PW demonstrated that Law enforcement works. Now Arizona will demonstrate the same, good for them. If ICE or other federal agencies did their job and enforced the law, states and counties would not have to do it. Obviously Arizona believes it needs to defend itself because the border is not being properly defended.

Posted by: BruceFairfax | April 29, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

"only" 6 percent? "only" 6 percent? It should be -0- (zero) percent or only a small percentage of one percent. If you're writing an article like this perhaps you should say "a whopping 6 percent" because that is 770 arrests, a large number in my mind.

Posted by: chilled | April 29, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

"only" 6 percent? "only" 6 percent? It should be -0- (zero) percent or only a small percentage of one percent. If you're writing an article like this perhaps you should say "a whopping 6 percent" because that is 770 arrests, a large number in my mind.

Posted by: chilled | April 29, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I can tell you what REALLY happened after our Resolution (that I and a few of my closest friends authored) was passed. That weekend, there was not a U-Haul trailer or truck to be found in the County. They were all being used by Illegal Aliens to move to more welcoming jurisdictions. Instantly, the place became more liveable. Young mothers were able to push their baby carriages on the sidewalks without fear of being hooted at by vanloads of illegal aliens. Joggers could jog the streets without Corona bottles being thrown at them. People could sleep at night without being awakened by salsa music blaring from cheap speakers mounted in a Japanese beater car.

Your statistics don't tell the story. Talk to those of us who lived through the Invasion.

Posted by: Advocator | April 29, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Sorry about the double post - I haven't figured out how to delete one. Had itchy fingers this morning.

Posted by: chilled | April 29, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Advocator. Wow. While there may be/have been more Hispanic illegals in PW, in reality illegal aliens come from many countries. This sounds less like concern about illegals in this country and more like biggotry and a dislike of Hispanics.

Posted by: Zarina1 | April 29, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

So, advocator, sounds like you are profiling. Noone other than Hispanics drinks Corona? Noone other than Hispanics listens to salsa music? Sounds more like you are the bigot and have a dislike for people who simply report facts.

Posted by: chilled | April 29, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Way to go PW Co!!- we could all learn something from this.Hopefully all states and locales in the USA will start enforcing such laws.Illegals are "illegal" and drain a great deal of resources from those of us Who actually pay taxes. I am sick of illegals driving down wages. Send them back to wherever they came from-anchor babies and all.i really don't care if they are Hispanic,Eastern European, of from where ever- Want to be an American citizen- obey the laws!!

Posted by: lsf07 | April 29, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I have to show a driver's license to borrow books from the library.

It doesn't seem to be a major problem unless you let it be.

Posted by: postfan1 | April 29, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

The District is still a sancuary city where you cannot ask about citizenship when you arrest someone and you cannot ask if they are citizens when someone applies for social services. Unless that changed the problem will just get pushed into areas like the District.

Posted by: almorganiv | May 1, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Having to show a driver's license to get a library card, or occasionally having to produce a birth certificate to procure Social Security services is NOTHING like having to carry it on you at all times, in the event you may be pulled over because of the color of your skin or because of the type of dress you are wearing. Those are some of the problems of this law. Nobody seems to be able to define the criteria for the profiling.

The remarks such as "they don't want to be American" really show an ignorance. Sometimes an older person has difficulty transitioning to a new environment but children adapt very quickly, learning the language and culture almost instantaneously. This country has always been about immigrants, so get used to it.

Think about the real issue--which is economic inequality in this country--those of new people coming in, and those of us who have been here a while. The middle class getting squeezed? That your complaint? Then stop blaming the "immigrants" and put the blame where it belongs--the top 1% who are taking more and more of America's wealth. Like a poker game with all the hands going to fewer and fewer of the players, while the rest of us are having to borrow to stay in the game. That's the real problem. Open your eyes and elect leaders who will be accountable to the middle class and not to the rich and corporations.

Posted by: moiraeve1 | May 3, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

lsf07 wrote: “Way to go PW Co!!- we could all learn something from this. Hopefully all states and locales in the USA will start enforcing such laws. … Want to be an American citizen- obey the laws!!”

Ordinary American citizens don’t obey the laws, either:

Citizens constantly ignore the laws of the road: they speed; refuse to completely stop at stop signs; fail to signal lane changes and turns; etc. Ask most citizens why they do this and they’ll say they don’t support the law, so they don’t have to obey it; or they’re in a hurry; or the laws are small ones (to them) so it’s not a big deal.

Citizens cheat on their taxes and consider it justified because they don’t agree with either the tax system or something else the government is doing, or they feel they already pay enough so the government should be happy with what they get.

I agree that immigrants should obey the law and stay only as long as their Visas allow or apply for citizenship.

But I also think that we Americans should quit being hypocritical and do our best to ALSO obey the laws.

Posted by: Zarina1 | May 5, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

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