Thursday, August 9, 2007

Yakabouski Urges Our Area to Plan for Illegal Immigrants On The Way

Date Published: 8/9/07
by Dan Telvock
The Free Lance-Star Newspaper

Battlefield District Supervisor Chris Yakabouski worries that Northern Virginia's illegal immigration problems will migrate south.

"Will they come down to our area and should we be ready for it or are we just going to react to it?" said Yakabouski, who also is challenging Sen. Edd Houck , D-Spotsylvania, for the 17th District state Senate seat. "I see this coming our way and I want to be ready for it and not have to react after the fact."

He plans to ask county staff, at next week's supervisors' meeting, if Spotsylvania can enact measures similar to those passed recently in Prince William County.

Last month, Prince William County supervisors began requiring county police to check the status of detainees suspected of being illegal immigrants. Also, staff is to report back within 60 days on what public services can be denied to illegal immigrants.

Originally, the recommendations were more strict. Public protests and fears of legal challenges led supervisors to tone down the measures.

In Loudoun County, supervisors told staff to determine what public services they could cut to illegal immigrants and how to penalize businesses that hire them.

Culpeper County has been grappling with the issue for about a year and supervisors enacted two measures Tuesday night, declaring English as the county's official language and seeking the state's help with the problem.

Yakabouski said he's concerned about how the county's limited funds are spent.

"I want to make sure we are not wasting taxpayer dollars on those who are here illegally and taking services away from legal immigrants," he said.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith said he needs additional resources to enforce federal immigration laws. The Sheriff's Office has nine deputies per shift, covering 407 square miles.
Smith said a deputy can detain an illegal immigrant for four hours, waiting for federal immigration officials.

"In the past, we have not had success with them coming and picking up one individual," Smith said.

Smith said Latinos, who are often the targeted group in illegal immigration debates, already fear police.

"We don't want them not interacting with law enforcement and being afraid to call us when they are victims of crime because they are afraid of being deported," he said.

The sheriff, who is chairman of the Rappahannock Regional Jail Board, said law enforcement agencies are working on a regional effort.

The proposal is to have intake officers undergo federal immigration training. Once trained, these correctional officers could enforce federal immigration laws, fill out paperwork and work with federal officials to pursue deportation when appropriate.

"Then, you are targeting illegal immigrants who are breaking the law," Smith said.

Chris Yakabouski is running for Virignia's 17th District Senate seat. He faces incumbent Edd Houck November 6, 2007.

Spotsylvania and Stafford are among the nation's highest growth rates of illegal immigrant influx according to a column in today's USA Today Newspaper.


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