The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bolling: Illegal immigration demands action; B3

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor says Virginia has to take action to deal with the large number of illegal immigrants coming into the commonwealth.

State Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, told reporters on a conference call Thursday that he would back a series of changes to state law that would, among other things, give the state and local governments power to arrest and hold illegal immigrants until they can be picked up by federal officials.

Bolling and the Democratic nominee, former Rep. Leslie Byrne, seek to succeed Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, who is running for governor.

While a low-dollar, quiet affair compared to the top of the ticket, the fight between Bolling and Byrne has been intense.

Both candidates have taken to the airwaves with attack ads — Bolling casting Byrne as “too liberal” to be the next person to preside over the Virginia Senate, Byrne portraying Bolling as too close to corporate interests to govern.

Bolling re-emphasized Thursday what has become a major theme of the race, illegal immigration.

Some have suggested that Virginia is becoming a new illegal immigration hot spot, not unlike California or Texas.

“If it’s true that Virginia has emerged as a new gateway for illegal immigration, then I think we need to be on the front end,” he said, “not the tail end of taking action to make sure that we do what we can do at the state level to take care of these problems.”

Bolling said he supports a law that would make it illegal to be present in Virginia while illegally inside the U.S. Law enforcement would have much more leeway in dealing with illegal immigrants if the matter were under the purview of state as well as federal law, he said.

That’s not to say the Virginia State Police are about to become a state Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Under his proposal, a law enforcement officer who finds an illegal immigrant on a traffic stop or other routine action can take the person into custody and hold them.

That way, “they have a chance to do something about it,” he said.

At present, Bolling said, state officials can only “make an appointment” for the arrested person to appear before federal officials to begin deportation proceedings, and are then released.

“What kind of a goofy policy is that? Who in their right mind is going to show up?” he asked. “That is to me a nonsensical policy.”

Other positions Bolling said he backs include prohibiting the use of any taxpayer funds, state or local, to provide government services to illegal immigrants, including welfare, Medicaid and in-state tuition.

He said he would support using the state’s power to require local governments to do likewise.

Bolling said he also supported requiring colleges and universities to verify that applicants are in the country legally before admitting them.

“No illegal immigrant should be occupying a position at a Virginia college or university that would otherwise go to a qualified Virginia student,” the campaign said in a written statement distributed during Bolling’s remarks.

“This is just another example of Bill Bolling trying to score political points by dividing Virginia,” said Joe Shafer, Byrne’s campaign manager.

Bolling’s proposals would cost millions and make life much more difficult for the commonwealth’s law enforcement officers, Shafer said.

Asking colleges to learn to handle the “143 different types of visas” before admitting a student “seems like that would put an awful big burden on the admissions office,” he said.