Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration: Legislators Try Again

The Republican leadership of the General Assembly has proposed a number of measures to deal with the growing problem of illegal immigration in Virginia. According to a press release from the House Speaker’s office, the key measures would:

  • Mandate that all local sheriffs, upon a lawful arrest for a crime, confirm that person’s legal presence in the United States using the nationwide databases of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Ensure that at least one person on duty in every jail at all times has been certified to detain and begin deportation proceedings.
  • Create a presumption of no bail for any person who has been charged with an offense punishable by jail or prison time and who has been determined (through ICE databases) to be illegally present in the United States. This change will help stop controversial “catch and release” activities, one of the primary ways illegal aliens currently pass through existing government systems unchecked.
  • Make a federal conviction for hiring illegal aliens grounds for suspension of a business license issued by the Commonwealth of Virginia. This change will serve as an effective deterrent to the unlawful hiring of illegal aliens.
  • Prohibit illegal aliens from attending Virginia public institutions of higher education unless they have a valid student visa. Recognizing that college entrance slots are fixed and limited, this change will preserve state benefits for in-state students and their families.

Virginia Democrats appear to be divided on the issue of how to handle illegal immigration. There are the usual voices denouncing the initiative as a cynical election ploy playing to nativist sentiments of Virginia voters. But Democrat Albert Pollard Jr., running for the Senate seat of retiring Republican John H. Chichester, has announced a plan to help employers avoid hiring illegal immigrants by mistake, notes the Times-Dispatch.

And even Democratic Gov. Timothy M. Kaine expressed sympathy with the frustrations that the GOP legislators are trying to address. As quoted by the T-D, he said: “Because the federal government has completely abrogated their responsibility to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, states are picking it up.” According to the Washington Post, Kaine also said that he is eager to work with the Republicans to curtail illegal immigration but will wait for the findings of a state commission before endorsing a specific proposal.

The United States is a nation of immigrants. Everybody but a handful of nativists celebrates that tradition. Many take pride in the fact that the United States has become, in the words of columnist Ben Wattenburg, the first truly “world nation,” a mix of ethnicities from around the globe. At the same time, most Americans want to live in a country governed by the rule of law. It’s one thing to support legal immigration — according to rules and criteria established by Congress — and quite another to defend illegal immigration.

Every functioning nation-state in the world maintains control over who enters its country. Control over borders is a fundamental aspect of national sovereignty. If Congress is politically deadlocked over how to control the nation’s borders, then the states have every right to step in and fill the void.

The GOP measures seem better thought through than the wave of proposals submitted — and shot down — a year ago. But there may be flaws. If, so I would like to see them pointed out. I hope to see a calm and reasoned debate grounded in the facts.

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5 responses to “Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration: Legislators Try Again”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Not sure, constitionally that states have the right to “fill the void” of protecting borders any more than they have the right to raise an army or declare war on another country.
    I am still wondering why there is such an outcry just this moment about illegal immigrants — especially by the downtrodden Republicans who have considerable political issues at the moment. As the Wash Post notes, there doesn’t appear to be one scrap of evidence that illegal aliens are actually taking the places of worthy Virginia college students. True, some employers use illegal labor, notably poultry processors, but that isn’t exactly news. Not sure aliens are taking Virginia jobs in any diostruptive way, given the rather low unemployment rates in the state.
    So rather than join the parade of anguish, let’s see if this supposed invasion really exists. The fact is, the U.S. and Virginia need foreign workers. And let’s not forget that everyone here, save for Native Americans, is the product of some kind of immigration at one point or another.

  2. Andrew Stegmaier Avatar
    Andrew Stegmaier

    The real question is “should it be a crime, separate from any other, simply to come here?” Congress has has set up a byzantine system of quotas on visas that arbitrarily limits the number of people that can legally come here to figure that is far, far below the people who would like to (the waiting list is several million). This is the crux of the problem. Just like any other government meddling in the economy (excessive taxes, price controls, protective tariffs) it creates a black market that hurts immigrants and natives alike.

    Congress needs to reform the system to allow people who want to come here to do so legally. But in the meantime, are states and localities compelled to stringently enforce a law that makes no sense in the first place? No. That is the cool thing about federalism and the separation of powers. We should take a cue from Jefferson, who, when he took office in 1800 immediately stopped all enforcement of the oppressive Alien and Sedition Acts.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Today the Center for Immigration Studies released a report noting that if immigration – legal and illegal – continued on at its current pace, in 2060 the USA, currently at a bit over 300 million, would hold a remarkable 468 million. An increase of over 50% in about 53 years.

    Run those figures through your sustainable human settlement patterns model!

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    In my opinion, one of the big problems with illegals is that we don’t know who or where they are or why they are here. When my ancestors came here they became part of the culture. The illegals want to bring their culture with them and we are supposed to adopt it and learn their language. Go to Mexico and have a demonstration in the streets demanding your rights. I don’t think you’ll be pleased with the outcome.

  5. Bill Smith / Editor Avatar
    Bill Smith / Editor

    Thanks for posting the story. We are trying to keep up on what is going on across the US regarding states addressing illegal immigration. Posted your story with a link back at Virgina GOP Legislators Seek to Crack Down on Illegal Immigration on the Arkansas Republican Assemblies

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