Magazine June 7, 2010, Issue

Look Before You Leap

President Obama speaks in Hyattsville, Md., June 4, 2010. (Larry Downing/Reuters)
Virginia’s Prince William County shows that Arizona’s new law won’t create a police state

President Obama wasted little time in denouncing Arizona’s new immigration law. “Now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed,” he said at a town-hall meeting in Iowa on April 27. “That’s not the right way to go.”

Rather than imagining a worst-case scenario, Obama might have been better off studying the experience of a county in Virginia. Three years ago, Prince William County took the enforcement of federal immigration laws into its own hands, much as Arizona is now attempting. It went through a period of

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.

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