Illegals-Law Challenge Rejected

Seth McLaughlin, Washington Times, December 1, 2007

A federal judge yesterday threw out a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Prince William County’s [Va.] new ordinance denying services to illegal aliens.

Judge James C. Cacheris said during a brief hearing at U.S. District Court in Alexandria that the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the resolution passed earlier this year by the Prince William Board of County Supervisors.

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The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the lawsuit last month on behalf of plaintiffs who included illegal aliens and the Woodbridge Workers Committee, an organization of day laborers in Prince William County.

But county attorneys argued that the plaintiffs could not demonstrate they had suffered any harm under the measures, which have not been fully implemented.

“This is a big win,” said Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. “This is the best shot that some of the best litigators in the country can throw at our resolution against illegal immigration. I think that is very telling.”

Mr. Stewart, a Republican, said the decision would encourage other localities to follow Prince William’s lead.

“We think this will give hope to communities all across the country that there is something legally defensible that a locality can do to crack down on the effects of illegal immigration,” Mr. Stewart said. “I think that communities all across the Commonwealth are going to adopt similar resolutions cracking down on illegal immigration. And I don’t think it stops at the Virginia border. You are going to see localities across the nation adopting similar resolutions.”

Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, who is likely to run for governor in 2009, said he was “pleased” with the ruling.

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The problems associated with illegal aliens led 20 Virginia communities to create a multijurisdictional Coalition on Illegal Aliens. The localities include Culpeper, Spotsylvania, Shenandoah, Loudoun, Rappahannock and Orange counties and the towns of Herndon, Quantico and Culpeper.

Culpeper Town Council member Steve Jenkins, who headed the effort to form the coalition, said yesterday’s ruling showed Prince William County is on the right path.

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Herndon Mayor Stephen DeBenedittis, who was elected chairman of the coalition on Thursday, said the coalition would “look at anything that seems to be effective in any other jurisdiction.”

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The ordinance denies county-funded public services to illegal aliens and authorizes police to check the immigration status of a detainee whether they have probable cause to think the detainee violated immigration laws.

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