Virginia Lawmaker Proposes Link Between State Funds, Local Immigration Status Checks

A Republican delegate said he will introduce legislation that would cut state funding to local governments that do not check on the immigration status of residents who receive public assistance.

Prince William County Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick said those that don't comply should lose all their state funding, including transportation and economic development dollars.

"Illegal aliens should not have a sanctuary in the commonwealth of Virginia," said Frederick, whose mother is from Colombia and who says he is the first Latino elected to state office in Virginia. "We don't need to provide them with an incentive to cut the line and break the rules."

Frederick said the legislation would toughen a 2005 Virginia law that prohibits local governments from providing some social services to illegal immigrants. He plans to call for every locality to prove its compliance with the law by adopting policies similar to those proposed in Prince William and Loudoun counties.

The northern Virginia counties voted this summer to deny services to illegal immigrants and step up law enforcement efforts against them.

In Arlington and Fairfax, officials have said they would prefer to leave immigration enforcement to federal authorities. Leaders in both counties also have said they do not support increasing cooperation between local police and immigration authorities for fear that even legal immigrants will be afraid to report crimes and help with investigations.

Corey A. Stewart, who chairs the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, criticized his Fairfax counterpart for declining to participate in a training program that allows police officers to gain access to federal immigration databases and quickly deport criminals.

In response, Gerald E. Connolly, chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors, accused Stewart of "political posturing."

"We are trying to focus on the nature of the problem in the neighborhood rather than on status because that's not our mission," he said in an interview with The Washington Post. "That's a federal mission. We've got our hands full at the local level."

Frederick was harshest about Arlington, accusing the county government of knowingly providing housing subsidies to illegal immigrants. Arlington Board Chairman Paul Ferguson denied the charge. He said the county does not actively seek information about residents' immigration status unless required by law.