- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2006

Republicans and Democrats in Virginia are teaming up on at least a dozen legislative measures that would crack down on illegal aliens in the state.

The legislation includes barring the use of taxpayer money to fund day-laborer centers, penalizing businesses that employ illegal aliens and requiring state police to enter an agreement with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would allow state police to enforce immigration laws.

Other measures would allow officers to report to federal officials the names of juvenile delinquents who might be in the U.S. illegally, and give the state authority to penalize the manufacture or use of fake identification documents.

Delegate John S. Reid, Henrico Republican, said Virginia’s swelling immigrant population makes such legislation necessary.

“I think people are beginning to see there’s been an influx in the immigrant population in Virginia [and] I think the public is beginning to realize there is some cost associated with it,” he said.

Immigration was ranked sixth in the National Conference of State Legislatures’ forecast of the top 10 issues for 2006. Last year, state legislatures considered 300 bills on immigrants and refugees and approved 36.

Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for House Speaker William J. Howell, said “there’s no real way to know” which legislation will pass during this year’s General Assembly session in Virginia.

“I think you’ll see a lot of attention focused around budgetary issues, particularly the day-labor centers and in-state tuition rates for illegal immigrants,” he said. “There will certainly be some attention on gangs, which is also a growing problem that also stems from illegal immigration.”

Mr. Reid has resubmitted legislation this year that would bar aliens from paying in-state tuition at state colleges and universities. In recent years, the House approved the measure but the Senate or the governor rejected it.

Mr. Reid thinks his measure has a good chance of passing the full legislature this year. “In a state where military personnel who are transferred here can’t get in-state tuition for their children, it’s ridiculous [that] someone who isn’t in the state legally can,” he said.

Other bills proposed by Mr. Reid include charging those who employ illegal aliens $10,000 per violation, barring the use of taxpayer funds to set up day-laborer centers and requiring the agencies that run them to check laborers’ legal status, and allowing court officials to report to ICE the names of juvenile delinquents who are illegal aliens.

Delegate Vivian E. Watts, Fairfax County Democrat, has proposed legislation that would make the brandishing of machetes on or near school property a felony. Gangs such as MS-13 are known to carry machetes.

“Machetes represent a serious physical threat that induces significant fear within our neighborhoods,” she said. “We’ll be looking at how to craft legislation that will treat the intimidation factor the same way you would the Ku Klux Klan.”

Delegate David B. Albo, Fairfax County Republican, has proposed a bill that would require the State Board of Elections to check the legal status of voters.

Mr. Albo, who co-authored at least eight other bills that crack down on illegal aliens, teamed up with Delegate Adam P. Ebbin, Arlington Democrat, on a human-trafficking bill that would outlaw the involuntary servitude of aliens for sex and labor. At least 36 cases have been identified in Virginia, Mr. Ebbin said.

Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, Prince William County Republican, said he hopes that the proposed measures will send a clear message to the federal government that something needs to be done about illegal aliens.

“While the whole illegal immigration thing is at the core a federal issue, it’s having a significant impact on the state [and] it’s impacting people in districts whether they’re Republican or Democrat,” he said. “Our citizens are calling for us quite clearly to do something about it.”

Mr. Frederick’s proposed legislation includes requiring state police to enter into an agreement with the federal government that would allow them to enforce immigration laws.

State police last summer declined to voluntarily enter into such an agreement, he said.

The bill would not require state troopers to check legal status of those they stop or apprehend, “but if they know the legal status and want to charge the person with illegal status they can do that once they enter into agreement,” Mr. Frederick said.

A spokesman for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said the governor will carefully consider all illegal-alien measures this legislative session to make sure there is an “appropriate balance” that is fair to legal immigrants.

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