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Posted at 12:50 PM ET, 11/29/2010

Lingamfelter says he asked Cuccinelli for immigration law analysis to avoid 'legislation by bumpersticker'

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Jennifer Buske
Rosalind S. Helderman

Virginia should lower the temperature of the illegal immigration debate and look for ways to pass effective laws on the issue that don't run afoul of federal powers or re-legislate issues already addressed by the General Assembly, Prince William Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) said Monday.

Lingamfelter said that's why he asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to do a legal analysis of legislation proposed by Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart that would essentially replicate a controversial Arizona statute that requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they stop for questioning if they have reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

Stewart's so-called "Rule of Law" legislation also would make it illegal to knowingly transport or harbor or otherwise aide illegal immigrants.

Stewart has essentially been campaiging on the need for the legislation, making it the centerpiece of his political identity as he looks at a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

But Virginia already has a law, adopted in 2008, that requires sheriff's departments to check the immigration status of anyone taken into custody by police and jailed. And Cuccinelli issued a legal opinion this summer in which he said it is legal for police officers to inquire into a person's immigration status upon stopping them, even if they are not arrested.

In his legal analysis--an unusual informal written dissection of legislation that has not yet been filed for consideration by the General Assembly, Cuccinelli wrote last week that he found large sections of Stewart's proposal to be duplicative of state law and unnecessary. Other portions, he said, could introduce broad new classes of felony crimes, were over-broadly drawn and could be preempted by federal powers.

"One of the things I'm trying to do as a legislator is get the temperature down, where we're looking at this rationally, with the goal of effective legislation," Lingamfelter said. "Legislation by bumpersticker doesn't work. You have to legislate with a great deal of energy devoted to the research."

I didn't have the expertise," he said. "I knew some of the things that were in there we had already addressed in law... And before we got in a huge back and forth on whether or not this works inside of Virginia's code, I just boxed it up and sent it to the attorney general and asked him if he could have his lawyers take a look."

Lingamfelter said he's still unsure if Prince William's policies on illegal immigration--widely perceived as the toughest in the state--actually result in those who are stopped or arrested by police being treated any differently than they are anywhere else in Virginia. He said he is trying to learn more about how, exactly, the county's policy and state law are being applied, to see whether there is room for legislation or not.

"We can't legislate by rhetoric," he said. "We've got to legislate based on actual activity on the ground."

Immigration advocates also have said Prince William's policy is duplicative of state law. "Either he's ignored of state law or he's deliberately deceiving people," said lawyer Claire Guthrie Gastanaga.

Stewart disagreed, saying the county's policy requires immigration checks to be conducted on anyone arrested, while the state law waits until the person is already in jail.

"Only half of the people arrested end up in jail, which means Prince William's policy is checking twice the number of people that other localities are checking at the jail level," he said.

Stewart said he decided to push the Prince William policy instead of Arizona's after a University of Virginia study showed the county's policy has had some impact on illegal immigration. He also said the county's policy was reviewed by a federal district court judge in 2007 and was found to be legal and constitutional.

"I was very surprised by Cuccinelli's opinion," Stewart said. "I'm attacked by a lot of pro-amnesty and liberal groups because of my position on illegal immigration, but I never expected to be attacked from the rear by a fellow conservative."

"Cuccinelli has been less than helpful on this issue," Stewart said. "His opinion expresses fear of being challenged in court. ...I don't care who challenges me on this-if it's Cuccinelli or the pope- I am not going to back down."

Those are likely to be fighting words for Cuccinelli, who is suing the Obama administration over the federal health care law.

"I think the attorney general's record regarding the federal government speaks for itself," Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein said. "This is not a personal opinion about the legislation. This is a legal opinion on the merits of the proposed legislation."

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Jennifer Buske  | November 29, 2010; 12:50 PM ET
Categories:  Corey Stewart, Immigration, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Last week, the University of Virginia released a 3-yr study of Virginia’s Prince William County’s immigration enforcement ordinance which concluded that the ordinance had helped reduce the county’s illegal alien population by 2,000 to 6,000 over the course of two years. During the same time period, hit-and-run accidents in the county went down by nearly half and aggravated assaults dropped by 47 percent. In addition, the study showed that the ordinance helped reduce serious problems of overcrowding in housing in certain areas of the county. Finally, the study also found that there was “no evidence of overzealous or inappropriate immigration enforcement actions by police.” While the study suggested that the ordinance disrupted some police-community relationships, it found that these quickly returned.

Posted by: mayaying | November 29, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

For those who are interested, there is a petition online that will be directed to the Governors of all 50 states, for the citizens of this country to assist in the detention and deportation of all Illegal Aliens present in our country.

Please read the petition, sign it if you wish, but most importantly, please copy the URL and email it to everyone on your contacts list.

Once the petition has been active for at least 3 months, all of the names of the people from your respective state will be forwarded to the Governor of your state.

The action in the petition would be valid for only 2 years.

Please remember, the Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives and have promised the enforcement of our current immigration laws.

What's most important about signing a petition such as this, is the fact that even if some of the ILLEGALS are not deported, they will be documented in the computer system as being here ILLEGALLY, meaning that they cannot participate in ANY amnesty program that could become available.

I am just as fed up with people breaking the law just by entering this country, and I am willing to pay the 1/4% sales-tax increase to assist in removing the very problems that drain our resources.

Posted by: ControlFreaks | November 29, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy about it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Posted by: robertjimeniz | November 30, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Our Government, has allowed the invasion of 30 million criminals in direct violation of Article IV, Section IV of our Constitution. they force American tax payers to pay Billions to provide Welfare, Prison cells, Educate the invaders children, free medical care,massive document fraud, & are destroying our schools, hospitals, communities, culture while Robbing, Raping, Killing & Assaulting American Citizens WAKE UP PEOPLE!

Every Non-representative including obama and holder need to be IMPEACHED! for not upholding the oath of office they swore to defend the Constitution! If these clowns were to do their job, this would all be a Moot point!
Deport all illegal’s, now, all 30 million of them. Anchor babies and their criminal parents go, period, and cut the phony tears, you knew you were breaking the law when you crossed the border.

Next shut down any business hiring illegal labor and confiscate all property belonging to the owner. Property will be sold at auction and the proceeds to pay for the massive deportation. Oh and owners go to jail.
Got a better idea? Lets here it!

Posted by: pyrostevo | November 30, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

While comprehensive immigration reform is very complicated and hotly contested, passing the DREAM ACT should be unanimously supported.

The opponents that compare children who grew up here without lawful immigration status to criminals appalls me. These kids should not have to suffer simply because their parents brought them here when they were young. Most of our ancestors did the exact same thing.

Deporting people back to a country they haven't seen since they were a small child, and can barely remember does not make sense. Immigrant children have often already overcome so many other obstacles, and if they can obtain admittance to a university despite this, then we should embrace these intelligent youngsters desire to further educate themselves and succeed. They are the future of our country. I believe the money loaned to them or even gifted will be repaid many times over through positive contributions to our society, as well as directly in increased future tax revenues from people earning higher salaries.

Not to mention that allowing immigrant kids to see that they can go to college and succeed legally, dampens the temptations to turn to crime or drugs. This scenario, unfortunately the frequent alternative, is far more costly and detrimental to our society then allowing these kids to go to college.

-Jason Feldman, Immigration Attorney

Posted by: jfeld222 | November 30, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

While this is not an official study, my personal observations of PW County in the past 2-years are:

1) fewer 10-year old girls are catcalled down the street by groups of men who would have sex with a monkey if it stayed still long enough

2) the pervasive stench of urine from men pissing wherever and whenever they feel like it, as dropped substantially.

3) there are fewer stolen shopping carts lying about townhouse communities

4) fewer housing units have taped up newspapers as curtains

5) fewer men are changing the oil in their cars on the street and dumping it down the sewer system

Posted by: john_bruckner | December 2, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

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