(The Daily Signal) In July 2007, the elected board of a growing county in Northern Virginia adopted a controversial resolution requiring the police department to partner with the federal government to help deport illegal immigrants.
Corey Stewart, the Republican elected the year before as chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, ran on a platform of stricter immigration enforcement during a time of economic anxiety.
“The main purpose of the resolution was to remove criminal illegal aliens so they couldn’t commit crimes, and to reduce illegal immigration to Prince William County,” Stewart recalled in an interview with The Daily Signal.
Before 2007, Prince William, a county of about 450,000 today, experienced dramatic growth in the number of foreign-born residents.
Most of these recent arrivals were Latino, a segment of the total population that almost doubled from 11.5 percent in 2000 to 21.9 percent in 2006.
The debate over the immigration enforcement measure, amplified by demonstrations and phone and email campaigns to sway the eight county supervisors, ended with a 15-hour board meeting.
More than 100 people testified before board members, delaying the vote, The Washington Post reported. Prince William’s supervisors, including six Republicans and two Democrats at the time, approved the measure unanimously.
Test Case: ‘Avoided the Controversy’
Prince William’s policy, as originally implemented in March 2008, required police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone officers encountered who they suspected to be in the country illegally, including people stopped for traffic tickets, for instance.
The Obama administration shunned policies like this one, which were authorized through the use of a program known as 287(g) that permits local and federal immigration partnerships.
The George W. Bush administration had expanded the use of 287(g) agreements—named for the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1996, signed by President Bill Clinton, that created them….