What does the Arizona decision mean for Stewart?
UPDATED, 2:05 p.m.--
The blocking of parts of Arizona's controversial immigration law by a federal judge has advocates of the strong-arm approach regrouping and reloading.
In Virginia, first and foremost is Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County board of supervisors, who played a key role in enacting similar legislation in his mostly white, bedroom suburb of Washington three years ago. The Republican wants to have the rest of the Old Dominion enjoy Prince William's and Arizona's experience.
"I think the Obama administration has made a strategic blunder," he has said. By filing suit against Arizona's law, the administration "is just trying to intimidate Arizona."
"Intimidate"? Now that's a curious choice of words.
If you want to see examples of intimidation, check out the Web site for Virginia's Rule of Law Campaign, which Stewart launched in June. On it, a smiling Stewart (family photo on right rail) brags that thanks to his law, "illegal aliens fled the county, and the violent crime rate has plummeted." (The former may be true, but the latter is seriously in doubt as statistics have shown little connection between the law and violent crime.)
Stewart's Web site advocates for Virginia exactly the same measures that U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton struck down in Arizona. She blocked parts of that state's law that would make it a crime for immigrants not to carry their registration papers with them 24/7, make it illegal to seek employment in public areas, authorize police to make warrantless arrests of people they assume to be illegal aliens, and require police to check a person's immigration status wherever possible.
Granted, as a state bordering Mexico, Arizona has a lot more immigrant traffic than does Prince WIlliam. The Copper State, which didn't join the union until 1912, has for centuries been a spillover region linking Latin America, Native America and European America. It really didn't become Anglo-ized until white retirees started showing up in the 1960s, and only after that did immigration suddenly become a big problem.
As a rather sleepy and affluent suburb, Prince William has not been awash with immigrants in the same way. It is not the hotbed of serious crime that one sees in the District or in Virginia metropolitan areas such as Richmond or Portsmouth. The vast majority of immigrants, documented or otherwise, seem to be hard-working, law-abiding Latinos filling low-end jobs that whites don't want.
As hate-filled and xenophobic as Stewart's views are, he still has support in Virginia. Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli filed papers in Arizona supporting that state's law.
How this will play out in autumn congressional elections and the ones for Virginia General Assembly in 2011 depend on how higher courts handle Judge Bolton's decision. It could very well be that the courts will strike down all of the Arizona law, not just parts of it. If so, Prince William's immigration law would be in jeopardy. And Stewart will look like a fool.
Meanwhile, Stewart has quickly penned additions to draft laws that are aimed at sidestepping the pitfalls in the Arizona judicial decision. They also add new punitive measures. Virginia would not make it illegal for immigrants to fail to carry their documents with them, according to Stewart, it would be against the law fort them to register a car in Virginia or buy property. Plus, illegals would have to pay a special fee to wire money out of the U.S.
| July 29, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
Categories: HotTopic, Local blog network, Prince William County, Va. Politics, Virginia, crime, development, economy, housing, police, race, schools
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