A project of the Center for Community Change

PRLDEF threatens to sue Prince William County over anti-immigrant ordinance

Yesterday we wrote about the Prince William County Resolution targeting immigrant communities in the region. Today, PRLDEF has notified the county that they will sue if the ordinance is not rescinded.

PRLDEF Threatens to Sue Prince William County
Unless it Rescinds Bill Targeting Immigrants

PRLDEF notified the Prince William County Board of Supervisors today that the county will face a legal challenge unless it rescinds an anti-immigrant resolution they passed this past week. PRLDEF was asked to represent several Prince William County residents who fear the new policies will endanger them and their families.

The residents of Prince William County believe the resolution will needlessly fuel racial divisions and ethnic profiling. Local law enforcement personnel will lose the trust of many. Police will inevitably increase the stops, interrogations, and detention of Hispanics who may appear to be “illegal”.

In Hazleton, PA many Latinos were subject to racists attacks once that town’s mayor pushed through a similar bill targeting immigrants. PRLDEF sued to stop that ordinance and the judge issued an order stopping its implementation.

“The Stirrup Resolution is terrible public policy,” said Cesar Perales, PRLDEF’s President and General Counsel. “Victims and witnesses will no longer cooperate with law enforcement. Public health will be put at risk. Absolutely no one benefits from these types of misguided resolutions.”

In oral and written testimony at the July 10, 2007 public hearing in opposition to the adoption of the resolution, PRLDEF stated unequivocally that the resolution was unlawful. The resolution violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution because it will have the effect of categorizing residents of the county by their race and immigration status. It is also unlawful because the Constitution requires that the federal government, not county governments regulate immigration, which is the very purpose of this resolution.

“This resolution will divide the county among ethnic and racial lines and will create an entire group of second class citizens, most of whom are legal immigrants and Latinos who are American citizens,” said Tulio Diaz, who has lived in the community
since 1972.

PRLDEF has brought legal challenges to such legislative acts and ordinances based on violations of the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and, long-standing federal preemption principles. PRLDEF is currently litigating against the City of Hazleton, Pennsylvania and Riverside Township, New Jersey. Judges in both of those towns temporarily enjoined the laws from being implemented.

PRLDEF recently forced the Village of Mamaroneck to stop a campaign of harassment against Latino day laborers. The village was ordered to pay $550,000 in legal fees and to hire a monitor to ensure that the village complied with the settlement.

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