Virginia Governor’s Race and Immigration Enforcement

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on September 26, 2009

Candidates in the race for governor of Virginia differ on the issue of state and local enforcement relating to illegal and criminal aliens. Former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell supports statewide involvement in the 287(g) program. Democratic State Sen. Creigh Deeds is unenthusiastic and vague. Republican McDonnell has endorsed Virginia State Police usage of this proven, useful tool for ferreting out foreign lawbreakers living among us, many of whom threaten public safety.

Deeds now has flip-flopped on a number of issues, including going squishy on immigration. He is running away from his legislative record of two decades as a rural legislator. Deeds voted against in-state tuition for illegals and for making English the state's official language, for example. On a range of social issues, Deeds now criticizes McDonnell for an old graduate school paper, though Deeds voted for most of the same positions. Deeds apparently holds no firm political convictions or principles. That's a problem for those who believe in the rule of law, the right to control our borders, and the ability of Americans to exercise self-government through their states and localities. If Deeds is willing to pander for immigrants' votes, what damage will this inflict on Virginians? If he won't stand for Virginians and against illegal and criminal aliens who commit crimes in our communities, then how will Deeds protect the people of his state?

The experience of Virginia's leading jurisdiction on the immigration enforcement front, Prince William County, has been extremely salutary. Before engaging in the 287(g) program, Prince William's inmate population was 21 percent illegal alien. Four out of five members of the violent gang MS 13 in the county were unlawfully present in the United States. Since July 2007, this county in Northern Virginia has given Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody of some 1,800 illegal and criminal aliens. The county has enjoyed a 37 percent drop in violent crime. This tough-on-alien-crime program has directly contributed to rising real estate values in the county; this during the national housing bust. Prince William real property values have risen 20 percent this year. Politically, listening to the pleas of county residents proved a winner for the county board. Chairman Corey Stewart easily won re-election to his post, despite the outcries of ethnic advocacy groups.

Topics: Virginia