The resolution is derivative of a draft sample ordinance created by the Immigration Reform Law Institute. It is surely the case that this resolution represents an excellent effort by the staff of this conservative legal think tank, but our interest will not beserved by an immigration resolution drafted in Washington DC imposed on Leesburg, Virginia. Leesburg would do well to avoid anything involving a firm that specializes in immigration litigation. Passage of the IRLI resolution means a revenue source for the IRLI lawyers. Their interests are served by lawsuits, not law enforcement. The evidence for this is right on the model IRLI resolution's disclaimer:
Important Notice: This ordinance has been prepared by IRLI as a model for educational purposes. Alteration of the text may create legal liabilities if implemented. The model must be adapted to conform to local law and procedure. Please contact the Immigration Reform Law Institute for assitance regarding the suitability of this model for specific local use. [Emphasis mine]It is important to remember that Virginia is a Dillon Rule state. Any resolution or ordinance which can be construed to step beyond the local authority explicitly granted by the state government is subject to a legal challenge. If Leesburg passed this resolution, the only certain outcome is billable hours for the firm retained to represent the Town in the Dillon Rule suit sure to follow.
(As ever, I am not a lawyer, just a concerned taxpayer.)
Mr. Reid, who has long been an opponent of any new spending or costs from the Town Government, neglected to provide any specific information as to what his proposal would cost the Town to implement and enforce. This resolution will definitely impose new costs, Ken Reid must plan on suppoorting new taxes to meet them. Otherwise, the voters deserve to know which town services will be cut to fund a quest to make our neighbors' lives miserable.
Additionally, such policies would be inherently discriminatory (and thus, subject to a lawsuit from yet another angle), unless all public services were subject to a universal citizenship check. That would mean that residents would need to bring birth certificates and passports to apply for any job in Loudoun County, or to seek housing assistance, or to escape from abusive relationships. This resolution may be but a step on the road to requiring "papers" to receive or use any government service or institution, or even to vote.
Most importantly, the basis for the resolution is fundamentally flawed. Immigration is not a critical issue facing Leesburg.
The crime rate in Loudoun County actually went down as the migrant population increased from 6% to 10% over the past few years. Loudoun Force makes this point powerfully:
Another statistic provided by Kraig Troxell, Public Information Officer for the Loudoun County Sheriff’s department, is that “there have been 3698 arrests in Loudoun County in 2007. Of those arrests 32 had ICE detainers lodged against them.”The population of hispanic residents in Loudoun is relatively small, only 9.3% (~25,000 people) of the total County population in 2005. Of that number, approximately 4,000 are likely to be undocumented migrants. That figure is derived by multiplying 1.5 (the approximate rate of undocumented migrants per 100 people in Virginia is 1.3. To be conservative, I used 1.5 for Loudoun, which would yield a higher number of undocumented migrants for Loudoun than Virginia as a whole) by the estimated 2006 population of Loudoun. That means that approximately 1.5% of Loudoun County residents are likely to be undocumented migrants. This in a county where over 11% of residents are foreign-born.
This means that only 0.86% of the crimes committed in 2007 to date where committed by the undocumented. Assuming an overall undocumented population of 5%, which was recently used by Supervisor Mick Staton, this reflects a crime rate that is nearly six (6) times less then the crime rate of the documented population.
Another way to view this is that if all the undocumented immigrants where removed from Loudoun County, the overall crime rate would increase, and it would increase rather significantly. This is because this less criminally inclined portion of the population would be removed from the statistics.
If our government starts inquiring as to the documentation status of everyone who might not be a legal resident, and only asks those who weren't born in the U.S. (setting up another racial profiling lawsuit for sure), then our public servants will still be wasting their time 90% of the time!
If you think waiting in line at the DMV is a waste of time, imagine waiting in line at the DMV nine times before actually getting anything done, and you will have the recommended policy advocated by people like Jim Clem and Ken Reid.
Local immigration resolutions are a useless waste of time that put towns at risk of serious litigation, increase the costs (for defense of lawsuits and enforcement of residency validation) of town government, and impose needless waiting, lines and bureaucracy on the 98.5% of our neighbors who seek public services legitimately.
And this is the great Republican idea of 2007.
[Update] Congressman Wolf was in Leesburg tonight, talking about Darfur. He was next door to the Town Council chambers, at the Tally Ho theater. Since immigration starts and ends as a Federal issue, perhaps Congresman Wolf could have been asked to stop by the Town Council meeting and voice his Federal voice on what is, in fact, a Federal issue?
Or was the Council's immigration debate just a means of grandstanding for Loudoun County Republicans? Considering the complete lack of coordination on discussion of this issue between our local (Republican) representative on the Town Council and our Federal (Republican) representative in Congress, the evidence is strong for grandstanding alone.