Opponents of illegal immigration want tens of thousands of local law-enforcement officers to carry out federal immigration law by checking the status of people they stop or arrest. The Christian Science Monitor says that the number of communities endorsing the idea – most recently, Virginia’s Prince William County – has been rising and is expected to jump even higher in the months ahead. “This is something we’re going to see a lot of now,” says law professor Dave Martin of the University of Virginia. He says public frustration over high levels of illegal immigration and Congress’s failure to agree on reforms is spurring the reaction.
Prince William County “has reached a boiling point,” says board chairman Corey Stewart. An influx of illegal immigrants over the past four years has led to overcrowded houses and schools, overstretched public services, and a rising problem with gangs, he says. With its vibrant economy and healthy job market, the county, about 30 miles from Washington, D.C., may have attracted 40,000 illegal residents – about 10 percent of the total population. Regardless of how county officials do the legality checks, racial and ethnic profiling will be “unavoidable,” says Joan Friedland of the National Immigration Law Center, an immigrant rights advocacy group.