- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A major crackdown on illegal immigration may be in jeopardy. In October, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed a remarkable, controversial law-and-order resolution, but today the board is expected to entertain a legislative proposal from Supervisor Frank J. Principi, a Democrat from Woodbridge, which would end the practice of police officers checking the immigration status of suspects. Removing that directive from the resolution essentially ineffectualizes the program. Checking immigration status is one of the only courses of action available to stem illegal immigration in the county. Without it, any serious crackdown is rendered moot.

The program kicked off in March, and almost immediately critics complained of overcrowding in the county jail due to an influx in illegal immigrants being brought in. But Chairman Corey A. Stewart said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stepped in to move illegals and has been “eliminating that backlog” quickly. Many were unhappy with the price tag of the program, which reached $6.9 million for the budget year set to begin on July 1. However, last week the council voted to remove $3.1 million from the budget that was to be allocated for video cameras in patrol cars to protect officers from accusations of racial profiling. Also, $1.2 million was cut in funds directed toward services for children of deported illegal immigrants. The budget was more than halved for a program that is not only working, but is strongly supported by Prince William residents.

And it is working. Illegal immigrants are leaving Prince William County in particular, and Virginia in general. Already, the county’s public schools have reported a huge decline in students registered in English as a second language courses. So, it’s strange that Mr. Principi would be so adamant in rejecting the crackdown. It’s cheap, popular and effective.

Mr. Principi should abandon his proposal and get on board with the will of his constituents and other taxpayers in his region and his state: Take a law-and-order stand and crack down on illegal immigration.

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