- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Local-government officials in Virginia said yesterday that they are not discouraged by the federal court decision that overturned a Hazleton, Pa., law that attempted to crack down on illegal aliens.

Supervisors in Prince William and Loudoun counties said they plan to move ahead with resolutions passed earlier this month aimed at denying public services to illegal aliens and toughening local immigration enforcement.

“Hazleton does not affect us at all,” said Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. “Our proposal is full speed ahead.”

Loudoun County supervisors modeled their resolution, which passed unanimously July 17, after Prince William’s resolution, which also passed unanimously July 10. Officials in Culpeper, James City and Page counties have said they plan to propose similar resolutions.

“We are confident that this is constitutional and lawful under state and federal law,” said Mr. Stewart, at-large Republican. “Clearly, as we implement the resolution, we need to make sure that we put in adequate training and draw very clear standards so there is no racial profiling or other discriminatory behavior by county employees.”

Hazleton’s ordinance, the first to be challenged and go through a full federal trial, sought to punish landlords who rent to illegal aliens and employers who hire them.

“The nature of the political system in the United States prohibits the city from enacting ordinances that disrupt a carefully drawn federal statutory scheme,” Judge James M. Munley, a 1998 nominee of President Clinton, wrote in his 206-page opinion.

Hazleton officials said they will appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, local-government officials in Virginia said they plan to do what they can to curb problems associated with illegal aliens.

“It should not discourage us from doing the right thing,” said Page County Supervisor Charles M. Hoke, who plans to introduce a resolution similar to those in Prince William and Loudoun counties.

Virginia localities should take the ruling as a warning, said Jaime Contreras, president of the National Capital Immigrant Coalition.

“The message that it should send local governments who are passing these nonbinding ordinances is that instead of turning the immigrant-community sentiment against county officials or local officials, they should focus on lobbying federal elected officials on getting this problem resolved.”

Both sides of the issue agree that illegal immigration is a problem, Mr. Contreras said, but local ordinances are not the answer.

“The resolutions are, No. 1, unconstitutional, and 2, are not going to stick,” he said. “The only thing they are achieving is angering the community, and anger is one of the best organizers.”

The immigrant-advocacy group Mexicanos Sin Fronteras is planning a boycott of Prince William County businesses later this summer.

“They want to ask for legal documents when you go to the library … but they don’t ask when you buy a car or buy a house or go to Potomac Mills,” Mr. Contreras said.

Loudoun Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio, who introduced the resolution, said Hazleton’s ordinance and the resolutions passed in Loudoun and Prince William counties are completely different.

“Hazleton was punitive,” said Mr. Delgaudio, Sterling Republican. “We’re not punitive. We’re just not going to give you stuff that you want.”

He said counties should be able to ask, “Are you hiring illegal aliens? Are you asking about immigration status?”

While federal law pre-empts states and local governments from penalizing employers for immigration-law violations, state and local governments can hold employers accountable “through licensing and similar law.”

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