News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Prince William County joins the bandwagon

The Prince William County Board of Supervisors in Virginia has joined the bandwagon of jurisdictions lashing out against the presence of Hispanic immigrants. In a resolution proposed by John T. Stirrup, Jr., a Republican from Gainesville, the local constabulary would be required to determine the immigration status of anyone detained, regardless of the violation. The police are resisting the measure, claiming it would be a difficult and wasteful effort. But that’s only the beginning of the backlash against immigrants in this resolution.

County schools have been ordered to deny admission to any student who cannot show proof of legal residence—despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary. A similar ban on services to the undocumented is proposed for every county agency as well. To heighten the anti-immigrant hysteria, a citizen can sue any county agency that extends services to an undocumented resident.

This mean-spirited legislation hides behind the usual platitudes about “the rule of law” and supporting legal immigration. But the real motives behind the proposed ordinance can be seen in Mr. Stirrups own comments…

"The problem of illegal immigrants in Prince William is exacerbated by their general disregard for the rule of law, abuse of taxpayer-funded services and obvious lack of interest in seeking citizenship or ever embracing American ideals. Rather, it seems their sole motivation is economic. Last year, illegal immigrants sent an estimated $45 billion out of the U.S. economy to their home countries."

Mr. Stirrup’s blanket indictment over an entire group is supported by only one fact: they sent $45 billion to their home countries. All the other allegations are unsubstantiated smears. Where are the statistics on the abuse of public services? What evidence does he offer for their “general disregard for the rule of law” or their “unwillingness to embrace American ideals?” This is prejudice in its purest form--and it is going to be made into law.

Sadly, the reason lies with the failure of our federal government. Their lack of political will has wrought this kind of short-sighted lawmaking. And this is only the beginning. The worst of these laws is yet to come.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez