As usual, Mark Kirkorian is short on facts and long on hysteria when my name comes up in the context of immigration. First I am chairman of the Virginia State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, not co-chair.
Second, a subcommittee of the SAC held a briefing on the issue of Prince William County’s recent decision to try to deny services to illegal aliens in the county last week to determine whether the changes will adversely impact the civil rights of legal residents of the county. We learned a great deal — as all the members present would attest. The Board of Supervisors spent little time gathering facts about the impact of immigrants in the county before passing judgment by way of passing new county laws. The Va. SAC brought in experts who could provide empirical data. For example, the Board of Supervisors resolution claims that illegal immigration is “causing economic hardship and lawlessness” in Prince William. We learned that, in fact, Prince William has a vibrant, healthy economy with low unemployment and high wages, and that the foreign-born (50-66 percent of whom are estimated to be illegal aliens, according to the PewHispanic Center’s Jeffrey Passell, who presented his data to the SAC) have higher labor force participation rates than the native born. More importantly, crime is significantly down in the County, not up (though violent crime had an uptick in 2006). The one area where illegal aliens have had a dramatic impact on services is in health care — but Prince William’s ordinance doesn’t address this, nor can it because federal law prohibits denying emergency medical services to illegal aliens. But we also heard disturbing evidence that lawful residents are being stopped by police for infractions as dubious as driving with a “bent license plate” and asked to prove their citizenship in the wake of the new ordinances.
I would think most conservatives would find this disturbing — Mark Krikorian’s efforts to read me out of the conservative movement notwithstanding. The Va. SAC will continue to monitor what is happening in Prince William to ensure that county officials develop fair and race-neutral rules for enforcing their measure.