According to the Washington Post,

Prince William, a Year Later
A crackdown’s toxic effects

ONE YEAR after Prince William County launched its drive to hound, harass and humiliate illegal immigrants, the toxic effects of the policy — on the county’s reputation, social cohesion, political discourse and neighbors — are increasingly clear.

Across the nation, Prince William has become synonymous with an ugly strain of nativist intolerance that has deep roots in American history but which is a slander on the county’s generally well-educated and diverse population. In this region, almost every other major jurisdiction has spurned Prince William’s approach.

Minorities account for almost half of Prince William’s 370,000 people, and a large slice of that population — around 20 percent — is Hispanic. Most of them are legal residents, but many also have ties of kinship, friendship or employment with others who are undocumented. Many say they have been made to feel unwelcome in Prince William. This year, several dozen religious leaders in the county wrote to local elected officials, warning them of the divisive consequences of the county’s venomous campaign.

Predictably, they got the brushoff from Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large), chairman of the Board of County Supervisors, who has done more than anyone else to plant seeds of discord and hatred in the county. Mr. Stewart is an avid opportunist and manipulator who has an arm’s-length relationship with public candor. Not long ago, he said that a plan to install cameras in police cars — a precondition for his preferred policy of allowing officers to ask suspects about their immigration status almost at will before arrest — would be dropped “over my dead body”; then he dropped it. Lately, he has tried to link a decline in crime to the harsh policies he has advocated. Trouble is, much of the drop is attributable to a fall in robberies that predates the crackdown on illegal immigrants and that probably stemmed from an aggressive anti-robbery campaign by the police.

So what has the county achieved with its effort to intimidate undocumented newcomers by ordering checks on the immigration status of all detainees after arrest and by denying certain social services to illegal immigrants? Without doubt, it has prompted hundreds of Hispanics — legal and illegal — to depart the county. Many of them have moved to surrounding jurisdictions, where they are enrolling in public schools and turning to local government services or nonprofits for help. To Mr. Stewart and his allies, this beggar-thy-neighbor policy is a success. In fact, it has simply branded Prince William as the one locality in the Washington area where demagoguery by elected officials has gotten the better of coolheaded public deliberation.

135 thoughts on “WP Editorial: Prince William, a Year Later

  1. Segundo Alamo:

    It was a well orchestrated effort by MWB to get all those who needed an interpreter to come to the meeting to tell their tale of woe. If the BOCS didn’t give as much weight to their argument it was because the BOCS knew they where the very same people whose presence the county’s legal citizens were objecting to.

    My uncle has been here more than 40 years and can barely speak english. We have americans born and raised here who don’t speak english very well. English proficiency doesn’t really mean anything except to those people with limited horizons and limited contact with the world outside rural Virginia but I can assure you that that world does exist.

  2. SecondAlamo

    One thing I will give the BOCS credit for is that they can take personal attacks such as the ones on this blog, and still remain rational enough to make fairly unemotional decisions. Something that few on here could deal with. Personal attacks tend to color your post with a emotional rather than a factual presentation.

  3. SecondAlamo

    Mackie,

    Give me a break, 40 years and doesn’t speak English! Now that’s a person unwilling or incapable of learning, or is it that he never ventured out into the ‘real world’. Not my problem!

  4. DiversityGal

    Second Alamo,

    You said…
    “You see it was well known that the numbers of people that appear before the BOCS don’t reflect the majority in terms of representative numbers. Obviously the non English speakers are a minority in PWC.”

    Should the BOS have assumed that every English-speaker in their constituency felt the same way you do? Would you have them not pay attention to the number of people in PWC who speak another language as a first language, and only pay attention to those who speak English as a first language? So the numbers of people who don’t speak English are outsiders bossing the BOS around unjustly, and only the numbers of English speakers count? Yikes!

    By the way, I certainly don’t trust that at LEAST one of the members of the BOS is making “fairly unemotional decisions” that have nothing to do with attacks on a blog. In fact, I think that a pretty controversial and emotionally-charged blog is responsible for fueling a lot of that member’s actions. I think that I have seen film footage of that BOS member giving emotional, heated (almost angry) speeches about illegal immigation.

  5. Bring it On

    Mr. Alamo,

    Perhaps for now, the greater fear comes from the attacks made possible c/o Mr. Letiecq. How many of our Supervisors have been bullied by him? or felt they would be viciously attacked if they didn’t fall in line? is that anyway to run a County? and the sad things is that they allowed it to happen.

  6. Censored bybvbl

    “If the BOCS didn’t give as much weight to their argument it was because the BOCS knew they where the very same people whose presence the county’s legal citizens were objecting to.”

    Do you mean that the BOCS should pay more attention to the HSM Red Circle Gang – who object to the presence of Hispanics – than it does to other residents?

  7. TH

    SA,
    When you said “Do you live in a trailer park, and don’t get what the big deal is?” aren’t you showing the same attitude that you criticize yesterday about working at McD? Can we call you an elitist for that?
    Please answer the question and don’t hide as you always do.

  8. Moon-howler

    This blog is certainly not responsible for all the vicious attacks directed towards local politicians and those running for office. I remember well those attacks on Sharon Pandek, Chuck Colgan, Frank Principi, and Jeanette Rishell. Those weren’t generated here.

    I remember some footage where a certain chairman of the BOCS is attending what appears to be a local meeting of a grassroots activist group looking for the life of me like some sort of storm trooper, all red in the face, sweating, and shouting. (I never took the pledge not to say storm trooper.) I actually believe that many of the BOCS are being bullied into doing the will of the order of the red circle. They have seen what happens to those who don’t march in step.

    For that matter, we all know that the attempted bullying still goes on, whether it is at the local 7-11 or whether it is here, guessing at monikers, pretending to be crazed violent Latinos, or bombarding someone with emails since they have stopped drinking the kool aide. These tactics are those of a desperate group.

  9. Tom

    I just don’t understand all the talk on this site of the resolution being intolerant and amounting to bigotry. I have experienced what I am about to outline below personally and ask why should I be excepting of this kind of behavior by what are likely illegal aliens.

    Overcrowded houses, where the occupants park in front of my house to the point that the only parking available to me is in my driveway (which is occupied by my boat) forcing me to park several houses away.

    The occupants of said overcrowded houses emptying the ashtrays from their cars unto the streets.

    Drunken men relieving themselves in their front yards, do you want your kids to see this?

    Young Hispanic men using your dead end street as a drag racing strip while children are out and about.

    Hispanic mothers allowing their very young kids (2 or 3 years old) to play in the street; I have almost run these children over twice in the last couple of years.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg, at what point do we say enough is enough and ask that certain “rules” of our society be adhered to?

    If I’m a bigot for not being accepting of the above than so be it!!

  10. Turn PW Blue

    OK, this is going to be long–not apologizing, just warning…

    This issue, like so many others facing our nation today, has been brought down to a sound-bite level that does none of us any good. We want to boil it down into simplistic terms and arguments–you either “get the problem” or you’re an illegal alien sympathizer…if you question cracking down on illegal immigrants, you’re racist…you’re either with us or you’re against us.

    Well, folks, it’s not that simple. There are shades of grey and nuances of position.

    I have a problem with illegal immigration. I don’t think it’s right. I don’t believe there should be a blind eye to what is, after all is said and done, an illegal action. But I also don’t believe that rounding up everyone without proper documentation is the answer. I empathize with those who have risked an awful lot to try to make it to the United States simply on the ideal that a better life will await them. Isn’t that, after all, the message we try to send about America? It’s the land of boundless opportunity. Further, the economist and free-marketer in me sees the value of the ready flow of labor in the economy.

    So I’m torn.

    On one hand you have a group that has violated the law. They are here illegally. The law and order side of me says all else is not germane to the discussion. They broke a law. They should not be here. But the human side is not irrelevant. In fact, it is the very core of who we are as a nation. Are we not a nation of immigrants? Were we not founded by people seeking to escape persecution and to live free? Is that not the very premise upon which we founded this great republic?

    So here’s my plan…my modest proposal, if you will.

    One, our current immigration laws are broken. The quotas we have established are arbitrary. The process to become a legal citizen is overly complex and too restrictive. We need to reset our quotas and institute comprehensive immigration reform that includes temporary worker programs. We can look to the EU for some ideas on how such programs might work.

    Second, we need to establish a path to citizenship for those who are already here and have been productive, law-abiding members of our society. It is all well and good to say that they are tainted by their first act of lawlessness and not fit for citizenship, but let’s be realistic. There are at least 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. It is neither rational nor feasible to even ponder a course of action that does not include some way to legitimize those who, except for the “original sin” of entering the country illegally, have lived model lives. We cannot deport 12 million+, so let’s not muddy the waters by even trying to contemplate how we can do that. So who qualifies? One, longevity counts. Show proof you’ve been in the country more than five years and you can enter the program. Been here less than five years? You can apply for a temporary worker visa or go home. Two, law breakers are out. Drive drunk? You go home. Steal? You go home. Any misdemeanor or felony is a ticket to deportation. Three, pass the naturalization exam.

    Third, in conjunction with reform to our immigrations laws, we need to put some teeth in our immigration enforcement. So long as a viable worker visa program exists and quotas are set reasonably, there is no reason not to tighten up the border and crack down on those who attempt to enter the country through illegal means. Additionally, we need to go after those who provide the very incentive for people to risk everything to come here–employers. As part of our immigration reform, we need to put in place substantial penalties for those who hire and exploit undocumented workers. Large fines and jail time are appropriate for the most egregious and habitual violators. Eliminate the demand for cheap, immigrant labor and the supply will dry up. Put in a system to check immigration status that actually works (the current eVerify is a disaster).

    At the local government level, get out of the immigration debate. All Corey Stewart has done is pawn off the problem on someone else, create a sense of ill-will with surrounding jurisdictions, and paint PWC as intolerant (at best) and bigoted (at worst). Local government should be dealing with local issues. With all the talk about illegal immigration and the time and effort expended on this issue, other core responsibilities of local government have been ignored (to our peril). Our roads are crowded and our schools are bursting. Our tax base is too reliant on residential. Far too many of our citizens are on the road 30 minutes to several hours a day commuting outside of PWC to find gainful employment. You want to make a name for yourself in PWC politics? Find a way to fix those issues and stop looking for cheap publicity by latching on to the newest “hot topic” in confrontational governing.

    Notice that no where in this proposal do I talk about language or culture. We are a nation in constant flux. Our culture is an agglomeration of the cultures of our own ancestors with some homespun spice. You cannot legislate culture. You cannot legislate acculturation. Our “American” culture has survived past influxes of immigrants (who were, at the time, considered “undesirable” and a “threat” to the American way of life). We will survive and prosper through this one as well.

  11. Moon-howler

    Tom, you shouldn’t endure any of those things. But answer me this one: How did the resolution, even in its most toothsome form, alleviate any of those problems you described? I would have preferred that the money be put into zoning and neighborhood services to beef things up and start working in the neighborhoods, where residents are so frustrated.

    Had the county approached problem-solving from that angle, then bad neighbors would have been targeted rather than an entire group of people. Neighborhood services cannot possibly reach all the problems with the understaffing it has today. Again, we must prioritize.

  12. MH, again agreed. These problems can be solved in better ways. Tom, I doubt denying people meals-on-wheels would help you with your urinating male problem. Just a hunch.

  13. Moon-howler

    Turn PW Blue for president!!! I certainly hope you have shared your proposal with our federal legislators. Your plan is the most reasonable I have heard. People who paint themselves in a corner on this issue will be the losers!

    Thanks for taking the time to share your opinion on this issue. You have my 100% support with this.

  14. Elena

    Turn PW Blue,
    I think we should post your suggestion as a seperate thread! Would you mind?

    BRAVO!

  15. Elena

    I do have one question, for those here less than five years, what we do if they have blended family status? Legal spouse, American child, etc.

  16. Chris

    TPWB,
    No apology needed for a long post when so much thought and consideration was given. You take into consideration the “human factor” which seems to be missing in much of the debate. Thank you for thinking about and looking at the “big picture”.

  17. Moon-howler

    Elena, excellent suggestion and excellent question. This kind of proposal deserves its own thread.

    I think actually that TPWB’s most valuable point is that he does have feelings that vacillate between two polar opposite views. I think most of us do. We have to deal with our mixed emotions.

    There would have to be exceptions made I would think, for the blended immediate families.

  18. Turn PW Blue

    Elena–

    Don’t mind at all and would love to see a true discussions of solutions, not just the kind of one-upping that seems to pass for discourse.

  19. TPWB, I just posted your solution on Citizen Tom. There’s another poster over there who thinks we’re left-wing nuts or something of the sort.

  20. “I do have one question, for those here less than five years, what we do if they have blended family status? Legal spouse, American child, etc.”

    I say, let them apply for citizenship. We don’t want to break up families. At least I don’t.

  21. DiversityGal

    Turn PW Blue,

    You seem like a very level-headed individual. It is a pleasure to listen to what you have to say, and I’m so glad you posted your proposal. Great ideas!

  22. Moon-howler

    DiversityGal,

    Turn PW Blue has a big fan club around these parts. He can always be counted on to present a cogent, well-thought out comment.

  23. Johnson

    Where are the hispanic legal permenant residents who feel harassed and have left the county? It seems as if only the illegal aliens are leaving. I have yet to hear of anyone legally residing here who has considered leaving. The resolutions are working. If you don’t like it, get it changed or go to Arlington and support them with your taxes.

  24. Segundo Alamo:

    Give me a break, 40 years and doesn’t speak English! Now that’s a person unwilling or incapable of learning, or is it that he never ventured out into the ‘real world’. Not my problem!

    Two questions:
    1. If the 1st amendment guarantees us the right to free speech, isn’t speaking the spanish language covered under this amendment?

    2. If you can expect my uncle learn English, isn’t it proper for him to equally expect you to learn Spanish?

  25. Some people literally cannot learn another language no matter how hard they try. This particularly applies to people with severe learning disabilites or another disorder.

  26. Casual Observer

    My German great-grandmother, who came to the US sometime in the 1920s died in the late 1970s, spoke German almost exclusively. I cannot ever recall her speaking English. If she wanted to speak to her great-grandchildren or my mother (one of only two grandchildren), she would speak to one of her daughters in German, and she would tell us what she said or needed. I also recall lots of hand gesturing.

    Go to Little Italy or Chinatown and you’ll still find the elderly family member who has never felt the need to assimilate (including learn English) because they essentially moved to US communities that were microcosms of their countries of origin. I also think there is a lot of fear behind that as well: fear of leaving one’s history behind for someplace totally unfamiliar, with a strange language, customs, foods, etc.

    This of first generation immigrants to assimilate usually ends with them, btw. The next generation is typically bilingual (and an essential link to helping the first generation survive in the US), yet fully American. Yes, they may celebrate their family history with such holidays as St. Pat’s, Columbus Day, Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo — but that’s what makes America the wonderful melting pot it is.

    So, SA, you’re wrong yet again.

  27. Casual Observer

    oops! Meant to say: “This failure/inability of first generation immigrants to assimilate…”

  28. Casual Observer

    Johnson asked:

    Where are the hispanic legal permenant residents who feel harassed and have left the county? It seems as if only the illegal aliens are leaving. I have yet to hear of anyone legally residing here who has considered leaving.

    I’ll tell you about one PWC family (mid-county) I know who was here legally, and left in early-May because of the Resolution. This family owned owned a beautiful home, spoke English as well as any one, and established THREE successful business in the county (a bakery, a cleaning service and one other I can’t recall). They also had three children: two in elementary school and a toddler. The school-age children were very successful students, in ESOL only because their parents’ first language was Spanish. The middle child, who was in third grade this year, was being evaluated for the fourth-grade Signet (Gifted) program when the family moved. He and my youngest child were good friends, having been in the same class together in K-garten, first, second and third grades.

    I asked them once why they had three business, because they worked very hard. The husband told me that he and his wife created the three businesses with the expectation that each child would take ownership of one when they grew up. Indeed, they started the third business when the wife was pregnant with her third child.

    And they were wonderful neighbors (though not mine). Quite a few times I would be visiting my friend (who did live next to them) and the wife would drop by with a cake or some other baked goods she had made. And they were always the first to offer to help if you needed something.

    Despite all of this, the Resolution passed, winter moved into spring, and they longer felt welcome in PWC. The husband announced they were all moving to Texas “until all this nonsense is over.” They tried selling their house, but I think the ended up renting it when it didn’t sell.

    And now they are in Texas and doing quite well despite missing home.

    So there you go, Johnson. Now you’ve heard of “one family residing here legally who has considered leaving.” Only you can take it one step further, because this family DID leave.

  29. Casual Observer

    Jeesh…I’m having all kinds of problems with blockquoting today. 🙁 My response to Johnson’s quote (in the first paragraph) is the entire indented portion below it.

  30. Moon-howler

    Many adults have a very difficult time with a foreign language. Do any of the nay-sayers ever wonder why foreign adults seem to retain their accent so long? The second generations of all immigrant waves are the ones who become proficient English speakers.

  31. Elena

    Welcome Tom,
    Are you describing illegal immigration issues, or community tension? It’s interesting you bring up young children in the street as an example. My friend, who lives in a very homegeneous community in warrenton, shared that a neighbor is always letting her 3 year olds play in the street, to the chagrin of other neighbors who fear they will hit one of them as the drive to their homes. She is “home grown” American, do you want to deport her too? Young stupid drivers come in all colors, that is simply the nature of the age. I can’t speak to peeing on lawns, but that has nothing to do with immigration status, just bad behavior! I could go on, but what you have described are neighborhood issues, which, had our county been foward thinking, should have set up a task force to really deal with tensions. I wonder, how do you know they are “illegal” immigrants?

  32. I have a theory, Elena, as to why the blogs are so often littered with blatantly ignorant ideas like those you are trying to address with “Tom.”

    Because politicians seem to be pandering to racists as, at least a significant part of their constituency, it is not hard to imagine that some people pick up on codified racism and foolishly assume that overt racism is okay too. I think they actually believe that stereotyping and anti-Hispanic hate speech HELPS their cause.

    It is up to the leaders of the Anti-Immigrant Lobby (not you Elena) to explain why codified racism is better than blatant racism.
    But it seems the task is simply too overwhelming and the gave up a long time ago.

  33. I have a theory, Elena, as to why the blogs are so often littered with blatantly ignorant ideas like those you are trying to address with “Tom.”

    Because certain politicians seem to be pandering to racists as part of their constituency, it is not hard to imagine that some people pick up on codified racism and foolishly assume that overt racism is okay too. I think they actually believe that stereotyping and anti-Hispanic hate speech HELPS their cause.

    It is up to the leaders of the Anti-Immigrant Lobby (not you Elena) to explain why codified racism is better than blatant racism in terms of political expediency.

    But it seems the task is simply too overwhelming and they gave up a long time ago.

  34. SA: “If you owned a business where people had to pay a fee such as a movie theater, and people came and watched the movie without paying the fee you’d be outraged, and legally so.”

    Yeah, and if you asked them to pay after and make it good and they did, then so what? If we assess people a fine and then get them papers to stay here and work or earn citizenship, what is the difference? This kind of “he didn’t pay” goes to Judge Judy all the time: “This is MY courtroom!”

Comments are closed.