- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Culpeper Town Council has again passed on a member’s attempt to address the issue of illegal aliens in the community.

Council member Steve Jenkins proposed Tuesday night creating a task force to look deeper into the issue.

Mr. Jenkins said yesterday that the task force would include officials from court services, hospitals, law enforcement, public schools and social services.

“I want to put together a task force made of… agencies in the trenches that are seeing the impact of illegal immigrants on a daily basis,” he said.

The council postponed voting on the proposal but could reconsider at a meeting next month.

Mayor Pranas Rimeikis hoped Tuesday’s meeting would be the last time the issue was discussed.

“This has been just a long, drawn out, tiring thing,” he said. “I really thought this was going to be the last month… but I guess it’s going to linger.”

He said school and court officials are dealing with the issue and keeping the council informed.

“How could a task force do it better?”Mr. Rimeikis asked. “I don’t know how a task force is going to go to a hospital and say, ‘Give us all your information on Hispanics.’ ”

Mr. Jenkins, who took office in July, has proposed several measures related to illegal aliens, including limits on the number of families living in single-family homes and laws against people hiring or renting to illegals. The vote Tuesday marks the third time his measures have been rejected.

The county’s Hispanic population has more than doubled since 2000, accounting for 2,345 of the its 42,530 residents, or 5.5 percent.

“My view on it is very simplistic,” Mr. Jenkins said. “Illegal is illegal. I feel very strongly that deportation should occur in an expedient manner once individuals are identified as illegal in the state and nation.”

Other council members could not be reached for comment.

Martina Torelli, who described herself a Hispanic and a citizen, said she is “disgusted by the amount of racism in this community” and the “lack of understanding,” according to the Culpeper Star Exponent.

Cherry Vanneman, a Culpeper County Department of Social Services official, said restrictions on the Hispanic families may lead to other problems such as homelessness.

Resident Keith Price said he would support a task force if members will look into solutions that would benefit the community.

“Some of the local effects of illegal immigration can be solved locally,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe we’ll find out we don’t have much of a problem at all.”

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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