Prince William chairman unveils Arizona-like immigration bill
Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, released legislation today that outlines how Virginia can crack down on illegal immigration yet avoid the pitfalls Arizona has faced with its controversial immigration law.
Dubbed the Virginia Rule of Law Act, the legislation enhances police officials' power to capture, detain and deport illegal aliens; curbs illegal day laboring; and creates specific state penalties for illegal immigrants.
Like the Arizona law, Stewart's legislation states that law enforcement officials are required to check the status of anyone who is detained if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are here illegally. Stewart, however, said his law will stand up in court because unlike Arizona, Virginia won't make it illegal for people not to carry their immigration documents with them. He also said there is a more conservative judiciary system in the commonwealth than out west.
"This same model [was] used in Prince William and was found to be legal by a federal district court judge," Stewart said. "I'm confident we would get different results here."
Prince William received national attention in 2007 for its crackdown on illegal immigration. While the county's original law did stand before a judge in Alexandria, the county has since modified its law so that police officers inquire into the immigration status of all people who are arrested on suspicion of violating a state or local law.
Stewart said his legislation goes a step farther than Arizona's. His legislation makes it illegal to register a vehicle in the name of an illegal immigrant and to transport an illegal immigrant. It also prohibits illegal immigrants from purchasing real estate and adds a fee to all international wire transfers of money. Stewart said the fee, which, under the draft legislation would be $5 for transactions under $500, would be returned to legal residents who pay Virginia taxes. The money collected from illegal immigrants would go to support the Virginia Rule of Law effort.
Stewart launched his rule of law campaign in June and, despite the Obama administration's action against Arizona, Stewart forged ahead. He also has encouraged other states to follow in Arizona's footsteps and take a stance on illegal immigration.
"I think the Obama administration has made a strategic blunder," Stewart said after the initial lawsuit against Arizona. "The Justice Department is going to have egg on its face when its case is dismissed. Arizona is on very firm legal footing and the administration is just trying to intimidate Arizona."
Stewart said he will continue to lobby for support from Virginia residents before bringing his measure to state legislators. He has about 10,000 supporters on his Web site.
July 29, 2010; 12:23 PM ET
Categories: Corey Stewart , Immigration , Jennifer Buske
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