Pr. William chairman touts his immigration reform plan at tea party event
Prince William County Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart made a stop at an Alexandria Tea Party event Wednesday night to tout his plan for immigration reform in the commonwealth.
The charismatic Republican, who has toyed with the idea of running for a U.S. Senate seat in 2012, has spent the past few months traveling the state to rally support for what he has dubbed the Virginia Rule of Law Campaign.
Launched in June, the campaign once focused on bringing an immigration policy similar to Arizona's to the commonwealth. Stewart, however, has since changed his tune and instead is pushing for legislation that would require all localities in Virginia adopt an immigration policy similar to that of Prince William, which requires police officers to check the immigration status of anyone arrested on suspicion of violating a state or local law.
"The Prince William policy is what I want [to see] because we know it works," Corey (At Large) said. "The policy has also been challenged in federal court and the judge found the policy to be legal."
Stewart handed out fliers sporting his photo and ways to contribute to the Virginia Rule of Law campaign to the roughly 30 tea party activists before telling them the story of Prince William's quest to curtail illegal immigration.
It wasn't easy, he said, and county supervisors were "vilified" when they first announced their plans in 2006 to address illegal immigration. Since then, however, attitudes have changed, and according to a recent citizen survey, roughly 80 percent of county residents are satisfied with the policy in place, he said.
A recent study produced by the University of Virginia's Center for Survey Research shows the policy has had some effect, as the growth of the county's Hispanic population now lags behind that of other jurisdictions. Research officials said the policy did not affect most types of crime, but there was a significant drop in aggravated assaults and hit-and-run accidents, which could be attributed, in part, to the policy.
Stewart said Del. L Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) has said he will draft the needed legislation and introduce it at the upcoming session. Lingamfelter could not be reached for comment.
"If he doesn't I'll be sure to let you know," Stewart told the crowd. "If we can't count on Republicans, how will we ever get this passed?"
| January 13, 2011; 12:35 PM ET
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