Lawsuit Filed Against Prince William Seeking Recission of Immigration Resolution

Today saw the filing of the first of what will likely be many lawsuits challenging poorly conceived and largely unconstitutional local and state immigration policies being urged on cowed politicians by an increasingly vehement minority whose demands will impose significant legal and other costs on their fellow citizens without meaningful corresponding benefit.

Here’s the press release describing today’s actions:

Latinos in Prince William County and the Woodbridge Workers’ Committee filed a lawsuit against Prince William County, its Board of Supervisors, the County Executive and the Police Chief seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to halt its implementation and enforcement of its recently passed anti- immigrant resolution, Resolution 07-609.

The lawsuit was filed by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF), Howrey LLP, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

On July 10, 2007, the Prince William County Board of Supervisors passed Resolution 07-609 which grants local police broad authority to inquire into the immigration status of individuals, authorizes county-level employees to gather, maintain and share information regarding the immigration status of individuals seeking public
benefits, and may limit county services that immigrants receive.

The lawsuit, filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, claims violations of the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and the laws of Virginia and requests declaratory and injunctive relief to halt its implementation and enforcement. The complaint was brought on behalf of 16 individuals and their minor children as well as the Woodbridge Workers’ Committee. The complaint alleges that the Resolution is an unconstitutional attempt to circumvent the federal government’s authority to regulate immigration and that it enacts a discriminatory scheme in violation of the Equal Protection Clause to the United States Constitution.

“This ordinance, which expresses the worst instincts of a few in the county, is destroying the basic fabric of community life,” said Cesar Perales, PRLDEF President and General Counsel. “Latino children should be taught to trust police. Not to fear they might take their parents away.”

Howrey LLP is one of Washington, DC’s top firms noted for its strong litigation practice. Partners John Nields, former President of the DC Bar and Christina Guerola Sarchio, incoming Vice President for External Affairs of the Hispanic National Bar Association and immediate Past President of the DC Hispanic Bar, will lead the effort.

Commenting on the case, Sarchio said, “the governing body of Prince William County has taken it upon itself to devise a way to handle immigrants in their community in a way that goes against the U.S. Constitution and federal law. It infringes upon Congress’ power to regulate immigration, a power unquestionably reserved to the Federal government. Putting aside the fact that all of our ancestors were immigrants at one point, the action the PWC Board of Supervisors has taken here is discriminatory and illegal.”

“This Resolution demonstrates a disturbing animus toward immigrants that contradicts what America is, a nation of immigrants,,” said Laura E. Varela, Director of the Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. “The Resolution promotes racial profiling and is causing a great deal of fear and unrest among both U.S. citizens and immigrant residents who live in Prince William County.”

The Washington Lawyers’ Committee, which joins Howrey in the suit, has for more than 35 years provided legal services to address issues of discrimination in the areas of equal employment, fair housing, public accommodations, public education, asylum and refugee rights, and disability rights. The Committee often teams with Howrey on community matters.

PRLDEF has previously brought legal challenges to such legislative acts and ordinances based on violations of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and, long-standing federal preemption principles.

Almost every lawsuit brought to date challenging such local ordinances and resolutions has ended in a decision against the locality (or a settlement) that cost tax payers substantial sums in legal fees.

All of these localities,including Prince William, would have done better to put money spent on lawyers into lobbying Congress for meaningful immigration reform and hiring additional staff to increase code enforcement for housing violations, increase culturally competent community policing and other actions designed actually to address the problems identified by some of their local citizens as adversely affecting their quality of life.

Instead, they’ve embarked on a course which is nothing more than a lawyers’ full employment policy and a prescription for community division that has done little more than earn them a reputation for ethnic hostility that will haunt them for decades to come in our increasingly diverse 21st century America.

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19 responses to “Lawsuit Filed Against Prince William Seeking Recission of Immigration Resolution”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Good for those latinos. As soon as they can be declared legally entitled to be here in the US, the sooner us Gringos can move to Mexico without being questioned and thrown in jail.

  2. James Young Avatar
    James Young

    And what’s wrong with full employment for lawyers? 😉

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    All I can say to the Latinos is “Vias con Dios.”

    They are absolutely right not to put up with this blatant racist profiling. Maybe after they win a few of these lawsuits some of the supervisors in the yew Hoo counties will think twice about pandering to xenophobia. They’ll have to account for the legal expenses in their budget. I really wonder how many average citizens want to see their taxes hiked so their politicians can posture on the issues. They will be another crock for the no-tax Republicans who lead the charge in this nonsense.

  4. Commenting on the case, Sarchio said, “the governing body of Prince William County has taken it upon itself to devise a way to handle immigrants in their community in a way that goes against the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

    The funny thing is that Greg Lettiecq, leader of the pack that is forcing this on PW (and actually pushed for much more), has taken time off from his work fighting illegal immigration to attack a personal adversary for proposing measures agaisnt illegal immigrants, measures the Greg called unconstitutional and a violation of Federal Law.

    That said, I find it hard to believe that ascertaining a person’s legal status when they are being detained for other violations of law would be found to be unconstitutional. And it doesn’t seem to be against any federal statute.

    They originally wanted to be more intrusive, which may have been a problem.

    And the county is being careful to address the legality for each program they restrict to legal residents. If they do that, it means at worst we can’t restrict anything. But there has to be some things you don’t HAVE to provide equally to both legal residents and illegal residents.

    Still, we really need to fix things at the national level.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Today, I was being served by a Hispanic woman in a fast food restaurant, in perfect English. After I stepped aside she switched seamlessly to Spanish toserve the next (hispanic) customer.

    They noticed that I was listening in, so I excused myself (In Sanish) and explained that I was a student. They both smiled, broadly, and said, no problema.

    I wonder how many American workers the restaurant has that can provide that level of service.

    Even though I speak conversational Spanish, I cannot make the seamless transition I saw today. It really is a marvel of human intelligence, and I know how much work it must take.

    I know of a general store run by Pakistanis, and onother run by Palestinians, and both of them seak fluent Spanish to their customers.

    Maybe Gringos would have less trouble in Mexico if they were there to work in the fast food restaurants, rather than to patronize other businesses.

    Sure, there are real problems, but the problems are as much with us as with them. What Prince William officials have done is detestable.

  6. Anonymous Avatar

    PW like the rest of Amerika is a bunch of middle class socialists.

    We want our subsidies, but we don’t want to be over-run by really poor latinos who need subsidies more than we do.

    Maybe we don’t want to face the fact that whites like Ed Risse are socialist leeches who had other taxpayers pay for their children’s socialist education.

    What think ye Jim Bacon?

  7. Anonymous Avatar

    Wasn’t Nields the House Questioner in the Iran-Contra hearings circa 1989??

  8. Jim Bacon Avatar

    This lawsuit may have legal merit — I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t say one way or another — but I would feel better about it if the people behind it didn’t characterize Prince William County as “anti immigrant.” Anti *illegal* immigrant, would be more accurate. The rhetoric of those filing the lawsuit strikes me as a willful distortion and demonization of the other side.

    I’ve had occasion to visit Prince William County twice in the past month — once to participate in a panel discussion with Carlos Castro, a Salvadoran immigrant and owner of Todos Supermarkets. You cannot hear Castro’s story of risk-taking, hard work and perseverance in the face of incredible odds without admiring him greatly. Indeed, almost all of my personal encounters with Hispanic immigrants, many of whom may have been illegal, have been positive. I have nothing against illegal immigrants personally — indeed, I sympathise with their desire to improve their lives — and if someone wants to characterize *me* as a bigot or prejudiced, then I would characterize them in turn as a race-baiting fear monger.

    The fact is, we have a genuine social problem here. While visiting PWC, I spoke at length with an Anglo woman who has spent virtually her entire life working among Hispanics, either abroad or in the United States. She considers herself politically very progressive. But even she acknowledged that the situation in PWC has gotten out of control. She estimates that 70 percent of the Hispanic immigrants in the county are there illegally. They are swamping the local hospital emergency rooms, getting free medical care and driving up costs for middle-class AmeriKKKans that Anonymous 10:28 has so much contempt for. Supposedly, some schools have classrooms with as many as 40 percent Hispanic kids, most of them learning English as a second language. Yeah, AmeriKKKa is just one step away from herding the illegals into concentration camps, isn’t it?

    Both sides of this debate need to take a chill pill and dial down the rhetoric. Then let’s look at the facts.

    I agree with Claire’s argument that addressing immigration is the proper domain of the federal government. But when the federal government has clearly abdicated its responsibility and local governments are getting swamped with the consequences, you can’t blame the local governments for looking for solutions.

  9. Groveton Avatar


    This is the best article you have written on this board since I have been visiting BaconsRebellion.

    Very well stated!

    The PWC anti-illegal immigration crowd has lit the fuse on a time bomb that is going to explode in their faces.

    This is absolutely a federal issue. And the federal government has absolutely failed to address the issue. In this case, George Bush had a good plan that was defeated by the specialy interest pandering dummies in Congress. I don’t give Bush credit for much but I’ll give him credit for having tried to address this issue.

    So, what happens next?

    The issue will end up getting decided by the greatest enemy of the American people – the US Supreme Court.

    The same court that dealt with the abortion controversy by finding an imaginary right to privacy in the US Constitution. Without regard to the moral question of abortion – the Supreme Court clearly over reached on that one.

    Now we have an issue where the Constitution is clear. The federal government regulates immigration. And the federal government has failed to act. And the localities are acting illegally (Illegal in the sense that the actions are reserved for the federal government in the Constitution). Now what happens? The issue will be decided by the US Supreme Court – nine of the worst people you would ever hate to meet. The typical Supreme Court justice is a power drunk, arrogant Ivy League know-it-all. Gone are the days when a practicing lawyer like Byron White could get nominated. Now we have nothing but egotists who fully believe that the people of the United States and their elected representatives are too stupid to decide much of anything for themselves.

    And Congress, through its cowardly inaction, is handing the nine apostles of doom another hunk of red meat. Lord only knows what these nine “masters of the universe” will ultimately decide about immigration.

    Congress failed the American people in this matter. And incumbents like Frank Wolf need to be replaced in the next election. It’s time to let some new faces try to do what the incumbents have failed to accomplish.

  10. Anonymous Avatar

    “local and state immigration policies being urged on cowed politicians by an increasingly vehement minority”

    Wrong. The support for doing something about illegal immigrants is both broad and deep. That is why we are seeing more and more of these laws passed at the state and local level. If only “an increasingly vehement minority” favored them, they would not be being passed by often huge majorities in communities all over the country. Lawmakers would have ignored “an increasingly vehement minority”.

    When the mayor and town council of Herndon overrode the wishes of the citizens who spoke against the Herndon Day Labor Center, they were defeated in the next election. Did “an increasingly vehement minority” vote 15 times a piece? No. Many, many average middle and working class people who had had it up to the ears with the problem came out and voted one by one.

    When the mayor of Hazleton PA stood for re-election after shepherding laws similar to those in PWC through his town council, he was endorsed for re-election by both the Democratic AND the Republican parties. Did “an increasingly vehement minority” vote 15 times a piece? Not likely. And he is appealing the ruling against his town.

    When the elites who want to extend amnesty to millions of illegal aliens and likewise expand legal immigration tried to shove their plans down the throats of a most unwilling American people, the people rose up and flooded Congress with letters, faxes, and phone calls, raising unshirted hell to the degree that Congress backed down not once this year, but TWICE.

    What makes it even more irritating to the people who have made their wishes clear is that the elites who support illegal immigration can mainly retreat to their upscale communities and their private or protected school districts and shout “xenophobic racists” at the people having to deal with the mess their neglect and denial have made for average citizens to deal with.

    It isn’t an issue of left and right, Dem vs Rep. It is the elites vs the people. And the people have finally realized that and have decided to fight. Good for them! None of these things would have happened if only “an increasingly vehement minority” had been in favor of such actions.

    Good, decent average citizens are tired of seeing the unsavory effects of the massive illegal invasion on their communities, their children’s schools, their health care system, their jobs, and their lives. They are fed up. They are sick of the federal government’s refusing to enforce immigration laws and they are sick of seeing honest attempts by state and local governments to do so blocked.

    The astonishing thing to me is the patience and calm consideration that they have shown so far. In the face of governmental lawlessness, they still are showing confidence that the government can actually act in their interests.

    And, Larry, “the specialy interest pandering dummies in Congress” were those of the elites trying to force amnesty down the throats of an unwilling people – people who have shown a great deal of tolerance but who are not willing to see their communities and lives destroyed.

    Deena Flinchum

  11. Deena:
    Let’s start with a some actual facts and real numbers: there were 10,203 registered voters in the Town of Herndon in May 2006 when the current council was elected. A total of 2,686 votes were cast (26% turnout). Of those, 1,363 votes were cast for the new anti-day labor center Mayor … he beat his pro-day labor center incumbent mayor opponent by 130 votes. The new Mayor’s vote total means he was elected by 13% of the registered voters in Herndon.

    That’s what I call a minority and it’s certainly not “many many voters.”

    And, I’m still trying to figure out how helping to assimilate immigrants by teaching their children English in school “destroys” “lives and communities.” Either you want folks who are in this country to learn our language and our system of government or you don’t.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have secure borders. We should.

    And, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t require anyone here without authority to pay a fine and back taxes and learn English if they want to stay. We should.

    But, let’s not overstate the meaning or size of a 130 vote margin “mandate” in an election in which just over a quarter of the eligible voters participated.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    “And, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t require anyone here without authority to pay a fine and back taxes and learn English if they want to stay. We should.”

    No we shouldn’t. We should require anyone here without authority to leave. We tried amnesty, which is what you are advocating, back in 1986. Furthermore, I supported it. I’ve learn my lesson well as have millions of other people. The federal government’s scenario was this: Give 1.2 million illegal aliens amnesty and in return, we’ll enforce laws that will prevent there ever being such a large number here again. Well, we got amnesty out the ying-yang – plus additional millions in family reunification – but we are STILL waiting for enforcement. And we now have 12-20+ million illegal aliens in the US 20 years later, waiting for the NEXT amnesty. We need to make them – and their friends and relatives back home – understand that it isn’t coming.

    Laws such as the ones noted in PWC have been passed by states (OK and AZ for example) and localities from NY to CA. People are furious. They are not willing to allow the government another amnesty for the obviously worthless promise of enforcement down the road, maybe, some day, a little bit, and way too late.

    I understand your position. You’re a lobbyist for some of these organizations. But you are wrong if you think that the majority of American citizens support this destruction of their lives and communities. They don’t. They are sick of the social engineering that they see being conducted at their expense, financially and otherwise. They are doubly incensed that it is being conducted by people who can largely avoid its disastrous effects because they have money and/or power.

    Immigration should first and foremost serve the needs of the receiving nation and its existing population, not just its business interests and ethnic lobbies. It should never be used by the sending nation as an excuse to avoid make living conditions inside its own borders better for its inhabitants, as has so much of the illegal immigration that we have received in recent years. It certainly should not be used to make living conditions for the citizens of the receiving nation worse as it has been doing for years now.

    And as for the Herndon election, 26% turnout isn’t half bad for a local election in a high turnover area. And 1,363 is many, many voters.

    Deena Flinchum

  13. Anonymous Avatar

    Anyway, there are probably more Latinos affected than voters who voted.

    Latinos will be happy to vote, if you let us.

  14. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    What I regret is the focus on humans trying to make a living rather than the employers who want cheap labor without benefits.

    I think you can fix this almost overnight by having a “no-tolernance” policy for employers.

    If you hire an illegal – you lose your business license.

    end of story.

    I’m not recommending or advocating for this but I’m pointing out just how corrupt and dishonest the debate is, in my opinion.

    If you don’t want folks coming across the border to get jobs illegally – just cut to the chase and go after the employers – and there will be no more jobs for illegals.

    Here’s a question.

    What political party rides the high horse on “illegals” in terms of hunting them done and deporting them but is tongue-tied when it comes to sanctions on the enabling employers?

    I don’t agree with it.. but if we feel like we don’t want folks in this country illegally working then make it a crime to employ them.

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    “I think you can fix this almost overnight by having a “no-tolernance” policy for employers.”

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Larry. A “perp” walk on the evening news by a “pillar of the community” would do more to solve this problem than anything I can think of. And we have a great way of starting this process rolling: Social Security check in which a business with a certain minimum of “no match” SSN’s gets a letter saying that we think we have a problem. And follow that up with a serious investigation. And follow THAT up with serious consequences.

    I think it’s obvious that a company that has a number of such no-matchs year after year might not be on the level or at the very least not be being careful. Swell. Let’s start with this low-hanging fruit and go from there.

    So what happens? Finally, finally, finally the federal government starts to move in this direction. Then the US Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, and the ACLU file a suit in San Fran to halt this, saying that it’s possible that a real live honest-to-God American worker might, maybe, could be affected. Forget that they have time to correct any possible miss-matches before being required to fire the person. Forget also that, as with any data base, you rarely have 100% accuracy. Is there anybody reading this that hasn’t had a credit card, checking account, insurance plan, etc NOT function correctly because of a data base or program glitch? So what do you do? Abolish credit cards, checking accounts, and insurance plans or correct the problem and go on. I worked in IT for over 35 years and the best way to correct problems in a data base or program is to USE it after testing as carefully as you can. Real life problems are hard to test because you can’t come up with all possibilities.

    This is ridiculous. And when you look at who is filing the lawsuit, it becomes even more ridiculous.

    The secret to taking care of the illegal worker problem is not that complex: Attrition through enforcement. I believe that most come to work – not to sell drugs, not to rape pillage and loot – so the obvious answer is crack down – HARD – on the businesses that hire them.

    I’m not suggesting that we even fine the illegal workers. Fine, expose publicly, and, yes, for repeat knowing offenders, jail illegal EMPLOYERS. When the jobs dry up, so will a substantial number of the illegal workers, especially if the social services aren’t there when the jobs dry up. And when the consequences become severe enough, employers will stop hiring them.

    Deena Flinchum

  16. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I’m in favor of going after the employers… if the IRS can whack employers for not filing W2s then why are we messing around with social security numbers…??

    If an employer is not filing W2s then sic the IRS on them.. regardless of whether the employee is an “illegal” or not.

    I think we need to completely get away from demonizing the workers.

    I think it is wrong morally.

    But I have no problem with exposing the employers whom I see as parasitic opportunists in the name of profit.

    If, in the end, the rest of us have to pay higher prices for apples and roofs and landscaping rather than higher taxes for emergency rooms.. GOOD!

  17. Anonymous Avatar

    The county has let us down in not enforcing zoning laws regarding overcrowded houses and property upkeep. These are quality of life issues that affect us all. It’s disheartening to see cases of Corona left on the curb or so many people living in one house with cars and bicycles parked in the driveway, yard and in front of the dwelling and the screen doors left ajar to signal rooms are available for rent. There are many good, legal immigrants in this county who work hard, pay taxes and make sure their children learn English. The vote by our County Supervisors will have a negative effect and further divide our community. It’s an election year ploy to get re-elected and cover-up for the lack of enforcement of problems they could do something about.

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    they can sue all they want illegal is the mane word ..whats next if i rob a bank and get arrested for breaking the law i can sue the goverment am not racist but when i go out and there are like 60 mexicans on the side of the road , some are child pretators and rapist it leads me to believe its time to clean up and then to have there poor childern crying about there mom and dad are being deported…go with them ….i dont mind immgrants that come here to better themselfs leagl.

  19. Anonymous Avatar

    Has the whole world gone crazy? This is not a debate about immigration, nor is it a debate about racism, or any other unreasonable position. It is about the BURDEN that ILLEGAL immigrants impose upon the communities that host them. The simple truth is the my nice, middle-class PW condo is not a ghetto. You can’t park your car for dozens of work trucks, the grass and sidewalks are littered with trash, the once-quiet streets outside my building are now a street carnival every night, and I’m supposed to subsidize these people like any other legal resident, just because they’re here? Mark my words – it will soon be time to pay the piper. You can’t populate your County w/ $7/hour labor who have 10 kids and expect the $50/hour residents with two kids to stay. Get the illegal immigrants out of PW and then let’s see where we are. I’m all about supporting my disadvantaged brother, but I’m not sure I want to pay taxes simply to subsidize people who have no right to be here in the first place.

    Be like me – go thru the proper process, pay for the appropriate visas and other documentation, immigrate, and OBEY THE LAW.

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