more of the same from the Va GOP on immigration

Brent Finnegan -- August 31st, 2007

It was on the front page of The Washington Post yesterday, and in the DNR today: the state GOP is getting serious about illegal immigration. Harrisonburg’s Delegate, Matt Lohr — whose bills to impose interpreter fees for non-English speaking persons in court got squashed in committee during the last session — says, “They have had enough. They want to see the laws change.”

Yes. It’s time to deal with this once-and-for-all in the General Assembly.

Forgive the skepticism, but isn’t this exactly what these politicians said last year? And the year before that? According to the folks at Richmond Sunlight, “Fifty-three bills pertaining to the immigrant community were introduced [during the 2007 session]. By the end of session, only eight bills remained alive.”

The Virginia GOP is currently trying to recover after the embarrassing driver’s fees faceplant last session. Could this have more to do with the fact that elections take place in two months? Perhaps this is another simple distraction, away from transportation and onto a much easier target, like all those darn aliens invading our towns and cities. My guess is that the voters are going to buy it.

But here’s the kicker: it doesn’t really matter what the GOP concocts in the next General Assembly, because deportation always has been, and always will be a federal issue. Note the quote from Sheriff Farley in today’s DNR story. ICE does not and cannot deport people for simply being here without authorization. Even Section 287 G of the 1996 Immigration and Nationality Act — the 10-year old law the Minutemen were promoting here in March — is only designed to deport serious criminals. So, merely jaywalking or driving without a license won’t get anyone deported.

So, huff and puff and spin away, but the most General Assembly will be able to do is make life here a little less appealing to unauthorized newcomers. And if the Republicans actually follow through with their threat to “crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants” this time, I’m willing to bet it will be the death blow for the poultry industry in the Shenandoah Valley.

…Okay, so that was really more editorial than news, but I’ve been immersed in this topic for so long, I’m eager to purge myself of opinions and move along to another topic.

22 Responses to “more of the same from the Va GOP on immigration”

  1. Crow says:

    I believe it remains attractive to them as an election year distraction. Attack the defenseless in order to look “tough” on something.

  2. JGFitzgerald says:

    How long before one of the brazen, bigoted blowhards introduces a constitutional amendment to ban some aspect of charity or decency toward an undocumented immigrant?

    Many of the BBB group are upset about the possibility of someone undocumented paying in-state tuition. I wonder if they believe, by extension, that undocumented immigrants should be spared the bad driver fees as those apply only to people in Virginia.

    (Yes, I know, it’s holders of Virginia licenses. We’re talking about irony and hypocrisy here, unburdened by the letter of the law, here or in Idaho.)

  3. Barnabas says:

    I say deportation should happen, but that instead of deporting undocumented workers we deport documented non-workers. We all know people who live off of the system and complain that the governemt doesn’t give them enough to live off of, meanwhile demanding that we send hard working men and women back to their countries. Lets keep the hard workers and deport the parasites that are capable of working but choose to live off of welfare or other government programs.

  4. Paul says:

    I have repeatedly heard the argument that undocumented immigrants freeload off of the welfare system and social services while not paying taxes. People say that to me as if it is universally accepted capital-T-truth, but I have yet to see evidence to confirm or dispute that claim. Does anyone know the numbers?

    Did anyone else shudder at the DNR headline: “GOP Makes Illegals A Priority”? Maybe I have listened to too much John Lennon, but referring to warm blooded human-beings as “illegals” just doesn’t feel right.

  5. finnegan says:

    “Does anyone know the numbers?”

    I think that’s part of what the Virginia Commission on Immigration is looking at. But by their very definition as “undocumented,” much of it is under the radar. Population estimates vary, so do the lists of costs and benefits.

  6. Karl Magenhofer says:

    Joe I really hope you’re kidding when you make light of the in-state tuition issue. That is one of the better examples of why some folks go beyond a knee jerk, gun rack adverse reaction about “illegal immigration.” In the instance of in-state tuition being extended to undocumented immigrants, you are making it a financial disadvantage to be an American citizen. I’m sorry, but I can’t justify that.

  7. Frank J WItt says:

    Karl, I’m sorry that you will come under fire for that last post. The majority of people that post here seem to beleive that the illegal immigrants deserve anything and everything that we, as Americans, are not so eager to take advantage of i.e. free healthcare due to lack of personal responsibility.

    I have posted so many different times and have come under fire because I don’t think the illegal act of crossing our borders deserves rewards…but what do I know…right guys?

  8. Frank J WItt says:

    BTW ~ Happy Labor Day weekend !

    Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.

  9. finnegan says:

    Free healthcare? Who’s getting that? I want some. Are you talking about Americans that go up to Canadian hospitals?

    As far as in-state tuition goes, I can see the the cause for objection. If they’re not paying into the system, why should they be able to come up here and get a free ride (just like, why should an American get treated for free at a Canadian hospital)?

    One girl I talked to (who crossed over from Mexico illegally with her parents when she was 11) is going to community college in Virginia now. As far as I know, she’s paying her own way.

    But I think Joe was referring to when the government steps in and tries to tell churches and charitable organizations they’re not allowed to help unauthorized immigrants. There was at least one bill like that last session.

  10. Frank J WItt says:

    Free heathcare…get in line at the emergency room at RMH, get help, then not pay.

    I, like so many other legit citizens, pay our bills when I had to go to the emergency room but did not have time to wait behind 11 other people.

    I’d post here where I went for immediate help but then there would probably be a line there too!

  11. Frank J WItt says:

    Heathcare…healthcare..I know you understand the point.

  12. finnegan says:

    Actually, I talked to an official at RMH who said unauthorized immigrants are not causing any big financial strains over there — they said most of their non-paying patients are white. There are a lot of uninsured people in the Valley.

    Though it certainly seems to be an issue in California.

  13. Emmy says:

    Frank, I don’t know where you were treated, but if there was a line, it probably wasn’t in Harrisonburg. I’ve been to the ER at RMH more times than I care to remember with my sons and we have NEVER had to wait more than 10 minutes to be checked in and never over an hour to be seen once in a room. The longest I’ve ever spent in the ER was when my son couldn’t breathe and they were keeping him there to get him stabilized so that they could be sure he needed to be admitted. During that time there was a doctor with us almost every five minutes. I don’t think that illegals are clogging up the works there. My second guess to where you went was Emergicare. I’ve been there quite a few times as well and I have to say that the wait was usually longer. I still got prompt care and wouldn’t say I waited an excessive amount of time.

    I know quite a few people who haven’t paid their bill at RMH. They were all white and uninsured.

    As finnegan said, this isn’t an issue in the Valley, but it probably is in border states.

  14. Frank J Witt says:

    I know it is an issue in PA as well. As for the “other” place…$50 for the visit which included ex rays and meds for deep muscle bruise isn’t bad at all.

    Do you ever see healthcare reform REALLY happening?

  15. JGFitzgerald says:


    From the Post story cited by Finnegan above: “(Jay) O’Brien couldn’t present any evidence Wednesday that illegal immigrants are gaining access to Virginia’s colleges.”

    It’s apparently not a problem. O’Brien and company are saying it is because this is an election year. But if an undocumented person who lives in Virginia goes to, for instance, Lord Fairfax Community College, that person, or his family, still pays the Virginia taxes that support the schools. The difference between in-state and Yankee rates for the undocumented may be a major big deal to those who feel they’re losing something to a pampered group, but I seriously doubt it’s costing me fifty cents a year in taxes.

    That said, I have no argument with charging out-of-state rates to that group. My problem with the topic is that it’s a non-issue being exploited for political gain at the expense of the powerless, defenseless and disadvantaged. I hate bullies.

  16. David Miller says:

    Front page again today. Anyone trying to get re-elected after screwing over their constiuents with “abusive driver fees”.

  17. cook says:

    interesting that someone in a thread about the immigration mess created by the federal government and managed by an inept federal bureaucracy seems to be wanting them to expand into the healthcare business.

  18. Gxeremio says:

    This thread isn’t about health care, but I guess you guys worried about socialized medicine think the police and fire department ought to go private too, right? Sorry, sir, if you can’t afford police protection it’s your own fault for not preparing well enough financially. House on fire? The government would probably just make it worse by stepping in. They’d probably spray gasoline on your house instead of water, right? Haw haw. And don’t get me started on the freeloaders who use public funds to get around paying for books and movies at the library.

    Regarding in-state tuition, my understanding was that the purpose of offering in-state tuition is to provide as good an education as possible to the people who reside in a particular state. Something about better-educated people being more productive community members, I think. If being a taxpayer is the issue, then low-income but native-born Virginians who don’t add anything to the state coffers shouldn’t get in-state tuition, huh? After all, Virginia residents who make more than $7,000 a year are subject to state income tax, whether they are documented or not. Not to mention the fees, fines, and sales taxes that everyone pays. In other words, undocumented does not equal non-taxpaying.

    There’s nothing particularly meritorious about being born in one place over another place. I don’t deserve anything extra because I happen to have been born in Virginia instead of Guatemala. But it makes good sense to invest money in the people of the community by offering them education so they can reach their highest earning potential.

  19. finnegan says:

    Here’s an interesting piece in the Daily Press about an overinflated estimate of unauthorized immigrant inmates in Virginia (via TND)

  20. Luis Padilla says:

    I can talk about our real problems because I am an immigrant myself. I have been dealing with immigration for the last 10 years. I am glad President Bush signed the TPS extension to give to more than 75 thousand Hondurans (including myself) 18 more month of legal status in the U S. Therefore I cannot hate Mr Bush like many of you here!
    One of the problems I know and YOU KNOW is about the high rate of high school droop outs among Spanish speaking students
    My concern is that if they keep dropping out like that then they become part of the low income social status which means they become dependent from others or the government.
    The absolute truth is that the future should depend about the choices they have (high school is free and immigration status is out of the questions) and if they take advantage of those choices. I’m talking here from experience; you can have all the opportunities right in front, but it is up to you if you have the desire, motivation, fire and the strong commitment to be successful. Their behaviors will shape their future and they will have (according to their choices) positive or negative consequences.
    I do not agree blaming others if they fail or blaming any political party (it is obvious that you guys blame Republicans for all your problems).
    I felt like a lonely voice again just liked I felt at Eastern Mennonite University just because my own conservative values.

    And talking about drop outs…

    I want to share with you my observations while visiting Rick Castalleda (counselor for Spanish speaking students) on Wednesday 8/29/07. I am glad I was there, so I have some else to talk about with people around.
    A high school student and his dad came to school for a very important reason…to drop out of high school. Which means one more Spanish speaking student is dropping out and others will follow. I realized it was a great opportunity to express my concern to the father of the student. I told him the consequences of his son’s action dropping out of school limits him from opportunities at corporate America. There are so many jobs that require a minimum a high school degree to apply. The father never looked straight to my eyes, but told me his son has a job at Marshall’s. His son said that he would get his GED studying in the evenings. My prediction is this… he will soon realize that he is not making enough money; he will look for a part-time or better yet…another full time job. And then we all can say school is out of his plans. Without his education he becomes part of the low income social status which carries all kinds of problems that I do not want to get on details.
    I have a great life here in the U S, a great family, church, a college degree, a new house and two cars in my garage…what should I care for the life of this young man and many others who will follow him? I could easily decide not to worry about it and continuing being successful while other immigrants are not. My strong desire is to influence others to be successful as well; therefore I want to do something about it!
    Please do not underestimate my views, my passion and desires. I do not think the differences from your principles and mine should be a problem to talk about our different issues.

    Thank you,

    Luis Padilla

  21. Gxeremio says:

    Hi Luis. Thanks for your comments, and welcome to the blog (if you haven’t posted before).

    High school drop out rate IS a huge problem. I totally agree. Some kids (and even their families) seem very short-sighted when it comes to the value of education.

    Just to be clear on something you said (not sure if it was directed at me or not). I don’t hate GWB. He’s done several good things – he speaks out for the spread of freedom and democracy, he increased our aid to Africa, and even the hated No Child Left Behind has a silver lining – focusing attention on groups that were ignored before (like English language learners). I also like that he pushed for immigration reform. But I think in other areas he has made major blunders that will take a long time (and a lot of money) to correct – in education, on the environment, in politicizing the agencies of the executive branch, and of course the “war on terror”/Iraq war fiasco. I’m sure he’s not doing things to screw up the country on purpose – but he is screwing up nonetheless.

    Neither do I blame Republicans for all ills of the world. Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt are two of the presidents I admire most. But in general, the groups that control the Republican party are doing more harm than the groups that control the Democratic party – though both have done quite a lot of harm!

    Thanks again for posting, hope to see you around more.

  22. Luis Padilla says:

    Hi Gxeremio,
    Thanks for welcoming,
    It is good to know that people like you welcoming to your group. My experience at EMU and other groups mingle to the left is that people do not want to talk to me either they think I do not know what I’m talking about or they do not care about it because my comments are not according to what they want to hear from someone like me… an immigrant who also grew up as a Mennonite therefore I should embrace everything about pacifism and peace and justice. But my concerns are beyond peace and justice and pacifism.
    I want to help the poor but from a different perspective…I am strong believer in “do not give only the fish, but teach them how to fish” (I think that’s the way it goes) or the broken window effect… “not just fix the window, but find why the window is broken” I do not think that giving money to the poor would solve their problems instead it creates a way of living that at the end has negative consequences.
    I am in support of the welfare system but just in cases of really sick or disable people. You can give 10,000 dollars to a poor person…but if that person does not know how to manage money, time and making better choices that money would be waste buying unnecessary things. Ex of this is…many victims of Katrina received $ 2,000. Many of them bought televisions and stereos and not food to their children. If we really want to help the poor we must teach them and give them the necessary tools to make better choices. My argument is…(I shared this in one of my letters to the editor) I am where I am because the choices I made more than 20 years ago.
    I have so much to share and I want people to at least get to know me…
    Thanks for reading,

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