The much-publicized plan to curb illegal immigration in Prince William County, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., goes into effect today, facing new questions about whether it will bring the “big bang for the buck” that Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart predicts, the Washington Post reports. Nearly four months after the board approved the plan, supervisors now realize it is going to cost more than expected without a clear way to measure its impact. The policy requires police to check a suspect’s citizenship, even in minor offenses, if they think the person might be in the country illegally. It also denies some county services to illegal immigrants. The board learned last week that it will cost $6.4 million to enforce the policy in the first year, more than twice as much as estimated. The five-year price tag is about $26 million.
Said Supervisor Martin Nohe: “We are the national poster child for local government getting involved in immigration. Whatever we do is going to be praised. Whatever we do is going to be criticized. There’s a decent chance we are going to get sued. We can’t screw up.” Driving up the cost was Police Chief Charlie Deane’s recommendation to install cameras in the 250 police cars to record when suspects are stopped as a way to defend against allegations of racial profiling. Beyond anecdotal evidence of illegal immigrants leaving the county, officials might not be able to assess the program comprehensively until the University of Virginia, James Madison University and the Police Executive Research Forum review it in October 2009.