The Washington Post

The Prince William County supervisors abolished a key part of the county’s illegal-immigration policy last night by directing police officers to question criminal suspects about their immigration status only after they have been arrested.

In October, the Board of County Supervisors directed officers to check the legal status of crime suspects, no matter how minor the offense, if they think the person might be in the country unlawfully.

“The basic policy is fundamentally the same. We just changed the way it’s implemented,” Supervisor Martin E. Nohe (R-Coles) said. “We want to give officers discretion in the field to use their judgment about when they ask and when they don’t. This allows them to make their own call.”

He said less-aggressive street enforcement limits the county’s risk of a lawsuit.

Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said the change will not amount to any “appreciable difference in the number of people arrested.”

“Every single person who is arrested will have their immigration status checked,” he said. “Officers will continue to have the discretion to check the status of anyone detained by them, even for minor infractions.”

The board unanimously supported changing course after slashing $3.1 million from its budget to install video cameras in police cars to enforce the county’s illegal-immigration policy. Police said they needed cameras to protect officers from accusations of racial profiling.

The board’s change in the immigration policy came before it considered the county budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The supervisors approved a fiscal 2009 budget of $893 million. That brings the property tax rate to 97 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, amounting to a 5 percent increase in the tax bill of the average homeowner.

The supervisors cut an additional $1.2 million in related police, foster care and protective services for the children of deported illegal immigrants last week. Other cuts included a reduction in proposed fire and rescue staffing.

2 Responses to “Prince William County, VA. Softens Policy on Immigration Status Checks”
  1. USMCwife says:

    I disagree with the Washington Post’s assessment of the meeting and the outcome.

    In my opinion, shared by the Chairman of our BOCS, is that enforcement will be INCREASED since Police will now have greater latitude to conduct immigration status screening. The following e-mail was sent out by Corey Steward, Chairman, Prince William County Board of Supervisors:

    “As reported in today’s edition of the Washington Times, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted unanimously last night to strengthen and expand its crackdown on illegal immigration. See the story here: Prior to this change, our police officers could check the immigration status of only those people for whom the officer had probable cause to believe were illegal immigrants. Now, police MUST check the immigration status of ALL people who are arrested (including those arrested for less serious crimes and released on summons). Also, the Board retained the officers’ discretion to check immigration status of those detained for any purpose, even minor infractions. As a result of these actions, our police will be checking the immigration status of more people committing crimes in the County. I know that there was some confusion by other news sources concerning the effects of the Board’s action last evening, and I have been contacting those sources today asking them to correct their stories.

    Also, I want to thank those of you who sent emails or attended the Board meeting yesterday. There is no question that your input helped save our illegal immigration policy from being repealed. ”

    – Corey

    Frank Principi, (D), tried to have the Resolution repealed or reduced. He was voted down 7 - 1. The opposition to the Resolution have now lost 4 times. They have resorted to name calling and ad hominem attacks as their own line of defense.

    The people of Prince William county have spoken - again - and firmly want immigration laws enforced and illegal aliens removed from our community.
    If you are illegal, you are indeed unwelcome. We make no apologies for that.

  2. Faye says:
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