- The Washington Times - Friday, July 13, 2007

Prince William County [Va.] supervisors have taken immigration enforcement into their own hands — an encouraging example for other jurisdictions that want to crack down on the influx of illegal aliens into their communities.

“I’m extremely excited about what Prince William County has done, and I certainly hope that kind of fans the fire of other municipalities across the state — including Culpeper,” said Culpeper Town Council member F. Steve Jenkins.

Culpeper County is one locality that appears to be taking Prince William County’s lead on addressing the cost of illegal aliens.

Prince William County supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to require police officers to ask about immigration status in all arrests if there is probable cause to believe that a suspect has violated federal immigration law. Supervisors also voted to require county staff to verify a person’s legal status before providing certain public services.

A report in January found Prince William spends at least $3 million on services to illegal aliens — a figure county officials think is an underestimate because it lacks data from public schools and the health department, which along with many other public agencies are not required by federal or state law to verify a person’s legal status before providing services.

Culpeper County released a similarly inconclusive report in April. The only county agency that had compiled data was Criminal Justice Services, which found that 133 illegal aliens performed community-service work worth about $70,475 at a cost of $30,443 to supervise them.

Culpeper County supervisors declined to say whether they plan to introduce a resolution similar to the one in Prince William County.

“Quite honestly, we’ve been waiting to see what happens in other jurisdictions,” said Steven E. Nixon, vice chairman of the seven-member Board of Supervisors. “You just don’t want to go into court if you don’t have to.”

Chesterfield County supervisors are waiting for the results of a study on the estimated cost of illegal aliens.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Kelly E. Miller, Dale District Republican, requested a similar report two years ago butsaid he commissioned another one because the results of the first were “inadequate.”

Mr. Miller said it’s premature to speculate what action the board would take or if it might follow Prince William County.

“First, we must garner the facts, try to quantify a problem, then see what our options are that are legally possible, and also practical,” he said.

Still, Mr. Miller said he is open to the possibility of joining a coalition of local governments to determine the impact of illegal aliens in their jurisdictions.

The Culpeper board’s rules committee on Tuesday discussed forming a coalition to work with the Virginia Attorney General’s Office to determine what enforcement measures local governments legally can take and to lobby the General Assembly.

“To get help from the state legislature, we need to act as a group,” said Mr. Nixon, West Fairfax District Republican.

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