- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Perhaps no issue better illustrates the difference between Republican Jerry Kilgore and Democrat Tim Kaine than their approaches to the illegal-immigration question. More than 200,000 illegal aliens live in Virginia today, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, an increase of 50,000 over 1996. Polls show that voters believe that this influx has worsened the quality of life, creating manifold problems ranging from violent crime to school overcrowding.

Regarding Mr. Kilgore, it is difficult to name an elected official anywhere in the United States who has done more to fight illegals than he did while serving as attorney general of Virginia. For example, one of the most serious and growing public-safety issues in Virginia stems from the activities of MS-13, a Salvadoran gang comprised largely of illegal aliens. To combat the problem, Mr. Kilgore worked with federal, state and local law enforcers to create tougher laws against gang violence and to increase sentences of those convicted of gang-related crimes.

As governor, he proposes to build on that record by pressing the General Assembly to enact laws creating new criminal offenses for assisting someone in obtaining false identification to establish Virginia residency. Mr. Kilgore’s comprehensive strategy includes expanding the definition of capital murder to include killings committed as part of gang-related activity.

Mr. Kilgore has been rightly critical of taxpayer funding for day-laborer centers, which cater to illegal aliens, and called on Fairfax County to drop its plans to spend $400,000 to establish three such facilities.

After Mr. Kilgore came out against the centers, Mr. Kaine’s spokeswoman disingenuously attacked him, suggesting that he was seeking to punish legal immigrants (Mr. Kilgore proposes nothing of the sort, and emphasizes that any sanctions would be directed solely at illegals). The Kaine campaign also accused Mr. Kilgore of attempting to penalize business owners “for the sake of political grandstanding,” and said that the enforcement of immigration laws should be left to the federal government. In essence, Mr. Kaine’s position seems to be that until President Bush and Congress can be roused to do something to prevent illegal immigration, a do-nothing enforcement policy in Virginia is fine with him.

Mr. Kilgore says he will mobilize the state police to work with federal authorities to apprehend and remove illegals. During his tenure as attorney general, Mr. Kilgore opposed driver’s licenses and lower in-state tuition rates for illegals; Mr. Kaine largely refrained from saying anything on the subject, while the administration headed by his political ally, Gov. Mark Warner, lobbied largely behind the scenes to kill or water down meaningful reform in both areas.

In sum, Jerry Kilgore can be counted on to do his best to oppose illegal immigration, while Tim Kaine will do his best to keep Virginia an illegal-alien-friendly state.

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