Obama's Speech Highlights Divide Over Immigration Enforcement In Va. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Obama's Speech Highlights Divide Over Immigration Enforcement In Va.

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By Jonathan Wilson

In Virginia, Prince William County's top elected leader says President Obama's speech on immigration did nothing to slow his push for tougher immigration enforcement across the Commonwealth.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart says the President's immigration speech offered little hope to states and localities struggling to grapple with the problem of illegal immigration.

"The conclusion I draw from this is that the states and localities will have no option but to enforce the nation's immigration laws ourselves," says Stewart of the President's speech.

His county already has the toughest immigration enforcement laws in the region. But Stewart says rules allowing local police to enforce immigration laws need to be statewide. He's putting pressure on state legislators to introduce a bill called "the Virginia Rule of Law Act" to make that happen.

But John Steinbach, with Prince William County's immigrant advocacy group Mexicans Without Borders, says he's building a broad coalition to oppose any such measure.

"Corey Stewart and his friends had better prepare for a fight, because we will organize and we will be there, and I'm confident that in the end that we will prevail," says Steinbach.

Stewart, a Republican, says he's gathered 3,000 signatures supporting his idea so far. He says a bill would need bipartisan support in next year's legislative session, since Democrats control the Virginia Senate.

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