Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Climate of Fear in Virginia

I want to alert readers to the growing climate of fear being perpetrated in Virginia as local officials have gone on an offensive against immigrants. With several counties approving policies to root out and drive out illegal immigrants, there is even an exodus from certain areas. People--documented and undocumented alike--are leaving behind homes, jobs, and lives, to escape the persecution they see coming. The Washington Post has been covering these events in detail.

Prince William County council has approved a measure requiring county police to routinely check the immigration status of criminal suspects, including those stopped for speeding or other violations. As a result, many Latinos are fleeing the area and its climate of fear. Prince William, Fairfax, Loudon, and other counties are also interested in finding ways to deny services to illegal immigrants. Herndon closed a worker center popular among workers, neighbors, and business, rather than allow undocumented workers to utilize the service. This open hostility to an entire set of people, simply as a result of their immigration status (and of course not-so-covert racism) is extremely troubling.

Meanwhile, throughout the state, as a new poll suggests, a strong majority of Virginia state residents believe illegal immigration is a problem in the state, although transportation and the state economy rank as the biggest issues facing the state. Republicans (and a few Democrats) in races for local and state positions have not hesitated to pick up on this pervasive sentiment and are wielding tough anti-immigrant policies as a primary campaign plank. This has been seen, for example, in the Fairfax county race for Board of Supervisors Chairman.

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