October 19, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Immigration battle in PWC

In spite of impassioned pleas, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted late on Tuesday night to "crack down" on illegal immigrants. This will oblige government workers to verify the legal status of those who seek public services, and obliges police officers do such checks every time a suspected illegal immigrant is detained. See Washington Post. It may seem like a draconian measure, but something along those lines will be necessary for local budgetary reasons alone. The broader reason why it became necessary is that the Federal Government, and the Executive Branch in particular, has failed miserably in its duty to enforce the laws and police our borders.

While I was in the Manassas area last weekend, I saw a huge number of road-side campaign signs, many of which spotlighted the immigration problem. The ones that stood out were the big pale blue signs for Corey Stewart, a Republican who is running for re-election as chairman of the PWC Board of Supervisors. I'm clearly sympathetic to his goal of addressing an urgent issue, but I am not sure I am entirely comfortable with his campaign approach. From his blog I learned that his Democratic opponent Sharon Pandak's biggest campaign donor is the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association, which has grown accustomed to relying on a cheap illegal workforce. Businesses supporting Democrats: what a role reversal! Hat tip to Greg (Black Velvet Bruce Li) for that link.

Immigration has been a hot issue in several campaigns across Virginia this fall, but not in our part of the state, thankfully. Several Republican candidates are taking a very sharp stand on the issue, seeming to pander to nativist anti-immigrant sentiment. Such grandstanding is by no means indicative of the party's stance overall, however, and I am proud that the 24th District Senate candidate Emmett Hanger has taken a reasonable, problem-solving approach to the issue. In the News Leader last week, columnist Al Dahler painted the Republican Party in general with a broad brush of xenophobia, which I think is unfair. Indeed, many of us took strong exception to former Senator George Allen's use of the macaca epithet on the campaign trail last year.

Making it clear how strong is the opposition to any reform to the status quo, a federal judge in California recently ruled that President Bush's modest, belated measures to punish firms that hire illegal workers was unconstitutional. What is interesting is that the judge did not cite the law as his primary justification, but rather the practical effect such a policy move would have on the economy. See Washington Post. We can't afford to enforce the law??? God help us.