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Immigration Debate Moves To Virginia

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By Michael Pope

Despite a ruling that puts a hold on Arizona's controversial new immigration crackdown, one Virginia politician is trying to push similar legislation in Richmond.

Prince William County Board of Supervisors Corey Stewart says he agrees with the federal judge who blocked a provision of Arizona's law that requires immigrants to carry registration papers at all times. But he disagrees with the part of the judge's ruling that blocks law-enforcement officers from checking a person's immigration status while enforcing other laws.

"We're confident that that provision of the law will withstand scrutiny, and that's why I'm going to be proposing that in the Commonwealth of Virginia as well," he says.

He calls his proposal the "Virginia Rule of Law Act." It would enhance police powers to capture, detain and deport undocumented residents. It would also increase criminal penalties, allow law-enforcement officials to break up day-labor operations and prohibit localities from preventing police officers from inquiring about the legal status of those who are detained. Stewart says he's confident that the issue will resonate with voters this November and beyond.

"The American people support a crackdown on illegal immigration, and when they see a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president refusing to do anything to crack down on illegal immigration, that's going to take a toll," he says.

Stewart says he hopes the proposals will be taken up in the next session of the General Assembly in January.

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