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Virginia AG: Police Can Inquire About Immigration Status

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By Jonathan Wilson

Virginia's Attorney General -- Ken Cuccinelli -- is weighing in on immigration enforcement in the Commonwealth.

Cuccinelli says police in Virginia have the right to inquire about the immigration status of people they arrest or even pullover.

"Virginia law enforcement have the authority to make such inquiries, so long as they don't extend the duration of a stop," Cuccinelli says.

Cuccinelli issued his opinion in response to a request from state delegate Bob Marhsall, who wanted clarification on whether Virginia police have the same authorities as Arizona police, under that state's recently enacted immigration enforcement law.

Marshall says Cuccinelli's response gives Virginia residents a clearer sense of what local governments can do when it comes to immigration.

"If a local board of supervisors don't want to uphold the rule of law, they'll answer to voters," Marsall says.

Claire Guthrie Gastanaga is the former chief deputy attorney general in Virginia and works with immigration advocacy groups.

She questions Cuccinelli's argument -- pointing to the temporary injunction placed on key parts of Arizona's new law. She says he's done Virginians a disservice by issuing this opinion.

"Rather than acting like the objective judge that he's supposed to act like -- these opinions are quasi-judicial -- he's in fact acting like an activist judge," Gastanaga says.

Gastanaga says the opinion offers no real new instructions to local authorities -- and will only serve to inflame the debate over immigration enforcement.

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