Recent lobbying by grass-roots organizations to force tougher enforcement of immigration laws in Prince William and Loudoun counties is inspiring similar groups to form in other Virginia localities and even across the state line in Maryland.
Residents concerned about the negative effects of illegal aliens recently formed Help Save Virginia Beach, the fourth chapter of the umbrella group Help Save Virginia.
Aubrey Stokes, founder of the flagship group Help Save Herndon, said concerned residents have contacted him from Annandale, Culpeper and Henrico County.
“Citizens can see they can make a difference,” Mr. Stokes said. “There’s the old saying: Think globally, act locally.”
Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said the grass-roots efforts of Help Save Manassas were instrumental in drumming up support for a resolution county officials adopted July 10 that restricts public services for illegal aliens.
“The group played a very large role in the illegal immigration crackdown that the board is pursuing,” said Mr. Stewart, at-large Republican. “They played a very helpful role in providing some of the research for the measures that the board took and they were also effective at generating public interest and turnout.”
The resolution requires 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. The resolution also requires county staff to verify a person’s legal status before providing certain public services.
Loudoun Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio thanked Help Save Loudoun and Help Save Herndon after the Loudoun board adopted a similar resolution on July 17.
Mr. Delgaudio, Sterling District Republican who introduced the resolution, said the groups held public forums for residents, candidates and elected officials.
“They’ve been working on these issues for years,” he said. “They’ve done everything that a traditional, nonprofit educational group is supposed to do.”
Help Save Herndon helped organize a chapter in Maryland, which has scheduled a protest today at a taxpayer-funded day-labor center in Derwood.
Help Save Maryland founder Brad Botwin said he wants to remind Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett that some county residents still oppose the center, which opened in April and is one of four operated by CASA of Maryland.
“I think this is the best way to show Mr. Leggett that we’re alive and kicking,” Mr. Botwin said. “Someone is speaking out — that’s the most important thing.”
Mr. Botwin said he and other opponents of the day-labor center have received little feedback from county and state officials.
Montgomery County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said Mr. Leggett, a Democrat, and county officials always have been open to discussions with residents on a variety of issues.