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McDonnell agrees with Cuccinelli on immigration checks, but can't require police action

Anita Kumar

Gov. Bob McDonnell said he agrees with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's legal opinion on immigration checks, issued Monday, but lacks the legal authority to force local police to check the immigration status of people they stop, despite a request to do so from Del. Bob Marshall.

"I don't have any control over local law enforcement officers,'' said McDonnell (R). "Those are controlled by local board of supervisors and city councils. That's the reporting relationship."

(Read today's story on McDonnell seeking federal immigration training for state police troopers.)

Marshall (R-Prince William), who requested Cuccinelli's (R) legal opinion and subsequently wrote to McDonnell to codify the language in the opinion, agreed that McDonnell has no authority to issue orders to local departments.

But, he said, McDonnell could use Cuccinelli's opinion to direct state police to make immigration inquiries more often.

"In light of the attorney general's opinion of laying down a marker on this, I think the citizens would hope he'd respond to that marker," Marshall said. "I think he would find it welcome among Virginia citizens if he issued some kind of directive -- whether an executive order or something else -- that the state police should be making this a priority. I think that would set very well."

A.E. Dick Howard, a law professor at the University of Virginia and the author of the modern Virginia constitution, also agreed that McDonnell does not have the authority to tell local police to act. Only localities and the General Assembly can do that, he said. But McDonnell could direct the State Police to respond.

But, experts say, if McDonnell required State Police to ask about the immigration status of everyone they stopped, Virginia might run into the same problems as Arizona.

Under Arizona's law, authorities were required to question people who they had a "reasonable suspicion" were illegal immigrants. A U.S. district judge temporarily blocked those sections of the law, which took effect last week.

Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police, said troopers are allowed to question the people they stop, but that they do not unless they have a specific reason. For example, she said, if someone's license, registration and insurance do not match.

By Anita Kumar  |  August 4, 2010; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Immigration , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  
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A guest workers program is the most important immigration legislation that America needs right now. It's almost harvest season and American agriculture industries need affordable workers now to do the jobs that most Americans are unwilling to do.

A Guest Worker "Border Protection Tax" could help pay for Border expenses. Documented Guest workers can help companies with low pay for the hard work of plucking chickens, harvesting cotton and crops, putting up drywall and digging ditches, and basically doing the hard jobs for less that Americans are not willing to do for themselves because they have better Jobs and Opportunities. Guest workers making $7~$10/hour with little to no benefits, and paying $2/hour of that for a "border protection tax" isn’t a great deal for them, but likely better than whatever jobs are available for them elsewhere and it helps American industries that are unable to find American workers to do the job.

5 Myths about immigration

“foreign-born workers who fill lower-paying jobs are typically first-hired/first-fired employees, allowing employers to expand and contract their workforces rapidly. As a result, immigrants experience higher employment than natives during booms -- but they suffer higher job losses during downturns, including the current one.” “…immigration also stimulates growth by creating new consumers, entrepreneurs and investors….U.S. workers without a high school degree experience wage declines as a result of competition from immigrants, but these losses are modest, at just over 1 percent. Economists also estimate that for each job an immigrant fills, an additional job is created.”

Beefing up border protection to the tune of 10,000 more national guards and law enforcement personal; paid for out of the guest worker program is a win-win for America and the workers and allows registration and documentation of immigrant workers that can provide a 5~10 year path towards a full-time work Visa for those that stick with the program.

Posted by: Airborne82 | August 4, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

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