Friday, August 6, 2010

Virginia versus the ACLU over police questioning of illegals

Note that a large part of the ACLU case is, as usual, social rather than legal: "It will also have an adverse effect on public safety as immigrants will be less likely to feel safe cooperating with law enforcement".

Note also that the legal side of the ACLU argument is based on the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Strange that they have no objection to the most blatant breach there is of that clause: "Affirmative action". What's good for the goose is obviously not good for the gander

The ACLU of Virginia today urged law enforcement to ignore Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's opinion on their power to inquire about immigration status while opponents of illegal immigration pushed for more severe action.

Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, who sought the opinion that Cuccinelli issued on July 30, sent a letter today to all Virginia sheriffs departments to encourage them "to do all that you can" using the powers described in the opinion to root out gangs.

Meantime, Corey A. Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and a dogged foe of illegal immigration, said he is asking Congress to subpoena Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, for information about criminal illegal aliens that the agency is no longer taking into physical custody.

The developments extended the contentious debate over illegal immigration that has seized the public discourse following Cuccinelli's opinion that law enforcement in Virginia can ask about the immigration status of any person they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect that the person violated a criminal immigration law.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who agrees with Cuccinelli's opinion, took to cable television today to talk about his push for federal approval for Virginia state police "to be cross trained as ICE agents so that we can do civil immigration enforcement" -- not just criminal.

Even Wednesday night in Roanoke, as the governor held the first of eight town hall meetings to pitch his plan for privatizing the state's liquor stores, two of the attendees' first three questions were about immigration.

Stewart's inquiry follows a car crash in Prince William County that killed a nun and critically injured two others. Carlos A. Martinelly Montano, a native of Bolivia and an illegal immigrant, is charged in the crash with third-offense driving under the influence, involuntary manslaughter and driving on a revoked license.

Today was filled with mixed messages to local law enforcement -- from the ACLU of Virginia and from Marshall.

The ACLU of Virginia urged law enforcement to disregard Cuccinelli's opinion, which is advisory and does not carry the force of law. The opinion, according to Rebecca K. Glenberg, legal director for ACLU of Virginia, does not give guidelines as to when it's justified to ask questions about immigration status.

"Because most police officers have not been trained to enforce immigration law, allowing them to question individuals about immigration status is an invitation for racial profiling and potential Equal Protection violations," she writes.

"It will also have an adverse effect on public safety as immigrants will be less likely to feel safe cooperating with law enforcement in reporting and responding to questions about crimes."

Marshall said he "cannot understand" why the ACLU would encourage ignoring the opinion of the highest ranking law enforcement official in the state. "The ACLU's position essentially allows alien terrorists and gang members to be untouchable in this country," he said. "We cannot allow this to continue."

Cuccinelli, in an interview with CNN Wednesday, noted that the new Arizona immigration law -- parts of which were temporarily blocked by a federal judge -- required law enforcement officers to inquire about immigration status. He noted that his opinion says Virginia's law enforcement officers may make such inquiries.

He said he expects that local governments around the state will devise their own policies for how their police and sheriffs should proceed.


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