- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Virginia House Republicans, who are facing re-election Tuesday, have outlined plans to bar illegal aliens from receiving state benefits and to give police more power to detain them.

House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, said yesterday that lawmakers are making such plans because the estimated 200,000 illegal aliens in Virginia have strained government resources.

“We welcome new members of the American family so long as they abide by our rules,” he said. “That’s why House Republicans … are so troubled by the fact that government resources at all levels are being stretched thin dealing with the safety and security issues caused by illegal immigration.”

Delegate David B. Albo, Springfield Republican, said he plans to submit legislation to require election officials to verify a resident’s citizenship on voter-registration applications. The proposed legislation also would enable police officers to detain illegal aliens during traffic stops if there is a prior offense on the record.

Mr. Albo also wants to require day-labor centers to check the legal status of workers, amending legislation he submitted last year.

He also vowed to shut down centers that do not comply, if the legislation passes.

“We’re not saying don’t build the centers,” he said at a press conference yesterday. “We’re saying if you build [one], provide an alien-verification system.”

A recent Rasmussen Reports poll showed that 71 percent of Virginians oppose using taxpayer dollars to fund day-laborer shelters for legal immigrants and illegal aliens.

Mr. Albo said deporting illegal aliens would help reduce the region’s emerging problem of gang violence, especially tied to the MS-13 group.

“It takes one crime to ruin a neighborhood and one person to cut your hand off with a machete,” he said.

Delegate John S. Reid, Henrico Republican, is proposing legislation that would fine employers $5,000 for each illegal alien they hire.

The lawmaker said illegal aliens also are a strain on Virginia’s education and health care systems and that gangs threaten the safety of the taxpayers who support them.

Members of the Virginia Coalition of Latino Agencies and Organizations, an umbrella Hispanic advocacy group, said such generalizations tarnish the image of the entire Hispanic community.

“Some of us recognize we have challenges,” said Arlington County Board member J. Walter Tejada, a Democrat. “We won’t shy away from discussing the bad and the ugly. But that’s the name of the whole movie — ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.’ The good hasn’t been discussed a whole lot.”

Coalition members yesterday called on state and federal officials to enact legislation that helps immigrants prosper in the United States and said they plan to appeal at least 10 state laws that restrict illegal aliens’ access to education and to driver’s licenses.

Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William Republican, said Virginia strives to provide “every opportunity” for legal immigrants to pursue the American dream.

“But we don’t need to provide opportunities to those who have cut in line, making it hard for people abroad who want to come here,” he said. “Those are the people our taxpayers want us to support.”

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