An Arizona-style immigration policy in Prince William County, Va., has reduced the number of illegal immigrants in the county, but its effect on violent crime is inconclusive, according to a study cited by the New York Times. The study was conducted by the University of Virginia and the Police Executive Research Forum at the request of the county. It looked at data from 2007, when the policy was proposed, through 2009. Prince William County began enforcing the tough immigration law, similar to one that was passed later in Arizona and is now facing legal challenges, in 2008. The county's law required police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they had probable cause to believe was in the country illegally.
The county executive, Corey Stewart, pushed the policy in a campaign that polarized residents. Hispanic groups criticized the policy as inflammatory. The county's police department, which paid for the study, expressed concern that the law would be expensive to carry out and that it would lead to accusations of racial profiling, and eight weeks later, it was suspended. It was later revised to apply only to those who had been arrested. The report found that there were 3,000 to 6,000 fewer illegal immigrants in the county in 2009, compared with 2006.