The Prince William County Human Rights Commission drew a direct link between the anti-immigration resolution and a recent increase in Ku Klux Klan activity in the area, attempted fire bombings and protests.
The report that took three months to complete stated that since the resolution was proposed in July, the county has been “fractured in ways not seen since the 1950s.”
The commission also said the resolution has created a “climate of fear and mistrust” in the county.
Prince William Chairman Corey A. Stewart, R-at large, doesn’t care much for the report, which he said was of little substance.
“For them to try to compare our initiative to crack down on illegal activity to what was going on in the South back in the 1950s is insulting and ridiculous,” Stewart said.
“Frankly, the report is not very meaty,” he said. “It spends most if its time criticizing the board for its policy and very little time in the way of concrete suggestions.”
Stewart said the commission was spinning its wheels.
“They needed to focus on implementation,” Stewart said. “It was a complete waste of an opportunity.”
The report also stated that Prince William County’s reputation has been “sullied” by the resolution
Stewart didn’t agree and said that sometimes, something simply needs to be done in spite of the possible consequences.
“Sometimes you have to rock the boat, create a little turmoil to change direction and get something done,” Stewart said. “At some point, you’ve got to put your foot down and do something about the problem.”
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors will vote today on the resolution, which will require police officers to check for legal status if they determine there is probable cause to do so.
The commission, which heard from a dozen organizations and 35 residents at weekly meetings, said that law suits are inevitable.
Groups opposed to the resolution as well as those in support of it sent representatives to speak to the commission.
At least two groups, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, have issued statements saying that they are awaiting the outcome of the resolution and would consider possible law suits if the resolution is too harsh.
Stewart said board members worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Virginia Attorney General, the Prince William County Attorney’s Office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to make sure that the resolution was legally defensible.
“We worked with all of them to make sure what we were doing is legally sound. We’re confident that we’re going to prevail in court,” Stewart said.
The advantages of passing the resolution, which aims to crack down on illegal immigration by denying county services to illegal
immigrants, will outweigh the costs, Stewart said.
“It will cause some inconvenience … but in
comparison to the benefit — I think it’s minimal,” he said.
The report also stated that other costs to the county include a declining real estate market, stating that home buyers have no desire to move into areas that they perceive to be “racially charged.”
The tax base could also be weakened by a decrease in commerce for businesses that serve the immigrant community, the report stated.
Stewart said he didn’t think the resolution would discourage new businesses from opening in the county.
The report stated that the resolution would do “little or nothing” to relieve long-term problems of assimilation.
Stewart said he didn’t see assimilation as a problem.
“I don’t see assimilation as a long term problem,” Stewart said
“If a person wants to assimilate, the first thing they need to do is obey the law,” he said.
The report can be seen at www.pwcgov.org/illegalimmigration.