Manassas Journal Messenger | Board: Resolution, voter intimidation not related

Five Prince William County supervisors interviewed this week failed to find any correlation between the passage of the anti-illegal immigration resolution and alleged voter intimidation at Stonewall Middle School on Election Day.

Prince William County registrar Betty Weimer said in an interview last week that a group with cameras was recording videos of Hispanic people entering the polling place on Election Day and telling them they were going to be deported if they were here illegally.

The State Board of Elections asked state police to investigate the incident, said Sgt. Terry Licklider, state police spokesman.

Prince William Supervisor Martin E. Nohe, R-Coles, said he thinks the incident may have occurred because emotions are already elevated over illegal immigration.

“I wouldn’t say that that happened just because the county passed the resolution. I would say it happened because people are feeling frustrated,” Nohe said. “There’s a lot of conflict in the community regarding illegal immigration.”

Nohe said the issue has been “bubbling” since before John T. Stirrup, R-Gainesville, announced in June that he intended to introduce the resolution that would deny all county services to illegal immigrants and require that all county employees ask for people’s immigration status.

The supervisors quickly rejected Stirrup’s initial resolution and had the county investigate which services could be denied, and directed police to look into having its officers trained to enforce immigration law.

“The issue of denying all services died almost immediately,” Nohe said.

In January, W.S. “Wally” Covington, III, R-Brentsville, asked the staff to determine how much illegal immigration costs the county.

Staff was only able to determine the potential cost of illegal immigrants in the Prince William-Manassas regional jail, the juvenile detention center and several social services.

The county cannot ask the immigration status of people seeking services that are funded by state or federal money, including education and health care.

Covington said he thinks illegal immigration has been on people’s minds since before he asked staff to determine the cost of illegal immigration. He didn’t think the resolution sparked the incident at the middle school.

“I don’t think the resolution brought that on as much as where the whole issue has gone in the last four or five years,” Covington said. “There’s just a tension in the community.”

Covington and Nohe agree that the high emotions regarding illegal immigration are more prevalent in some areas of the county such as the Gainesville District and parts of the Woodbridge District.

“I don’t believe that it’s a county-wide problem,” Covington said.

Nohe said he believes transportation and education top the list.

“The majority of people in this county don’t view immigration as their main issue,” Nohe said.

Maureen S. Caddigan, R-Dumfries, didn’t have any comment about the incident at the middle school.

Michael C. May, R-Occoquan, didn’t think the resolution caused the behavior.

“I just don’t see the connection between the measures that we passed and people feeling that they can intimidate voters,” May said.

Chairman Corey A. Stewart, R-at large, agreed.

“I don’t see any connection between the two things at all.”

May condemned any action that might have been untoward.

“We wouldn’t want any of this kind of thing to occur in Prince William County,” May said. “Voter intimidation is wrong and I’m glad the police are looking into this.”

Supervisors, John D. Jenkins, D-Neabsco, John T. Stirrup, R-Gainesville and Hilda M. Barg, D-Woodbridge did not return phone calls.

Similar Posts