Worries about budget concerns led the Prince William Board of County Supervisors to unanimously postpone action this afternoon on the proposed resolution to crack down on illegal immigration.
The board approved, in theory the resolution directing county police to check the legal status of people if they believe there is probable cause that they are illegal immigrants. They will take up the funding for seven officers to create the criminal alien unit on Oct. 16.
The vote stopped short of denying some county services which included prohibiting illegal immigrants from participating in substance abuse programs in the Prince William-Manassas regional jail and preventing illegal immigrants who are homeless from receiving rental and mortgage assistance.
A majority of the supervisors weren’t ready to pass the parts of the resolution denying services until after the cost of implementing them until the board fully understood the cost.
Both sides are claiming victory.
Ricardo Juarez-Nava of Mexicans Without Borders, a group that opposed the resolution, said marches, demonstrations, a boycott of area businesses and more than 7,000 letters persuaded the supervisors to defer the vote
“Today we claim a partial victory in the immigrant struggle,” Juarez told a crowd of about 650 outside the McCoart Administration Center after the board vote.
Greg Letiecq, the president of Help Save Manassas which supports the resolution, also considered the board’s vote a partial victory because it accepted Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane’s proposal .
The resolution also authorized the Prince William Juvenile Detention Center to explore having some of it’s officer trained under section 287(g) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act
“This is good ,” Letiecq said. “The juvenile detention center 287(g) is an excellent initiative.”
Supervisor W.S. “Wally” Covington, III, said he thought the board had been pulled away from its “central mission “
“We’ve been pulled into the federal debate more than I’m really comfortable with. I don’t disagree with staff’s position that ultimately this is a federal decision,” Covington said.”i believe we’ve gotten into a debate of who America is.”
But Covington said the supervisors were on the board to count the cost.
“For me what this has always been about is what the cost is – the cost of illegal immigration in Prince William County,” he said.
Covington supported having the police enforce immigration law, but said he had “concerns about how we’re going to pay for it.”
Deane told the board that ICE training for police staff, extra work for police officers and farming out prisoners to other jails across the state will cost the county about $14.2 million over five years.
John T. Stirrup, R-Gainesville, proposed the resolution on July 10 and the board gave county staff 90 days to determine which county services could be denied to illegal immigrants.
Staff presented the resolution to the board today.