Thursday, August 23, 2007

Human Rights Disappearing in Prince William County

Prince William County Resolution "Sounds Like Profiling" Fairfax Official Says
updated August 24, 2007

The Prince William County measure recently came under scrutiny from County Chairman Gerry Connolly of Fairfax County, which borders Prince William County. The July 10 resolution issued by Prince William County calls for police to question criminal suspects about immigration status if they have "probable cause."

Chairman Connolly questioned what constitutes probable cause, "Is it how someone looks? Is it their accent? Is it what they're wearing?" he asked. "That sounds like profiling, and I don't know how they're going to get over that," Connolly said, the Examiner reports.

According to Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, "The way we are going to do that is with a standardized probable cause that has nothing to do with race, ethnicity or language." Failure to produce a driver's license during a criminal investigation may result in an automatic immigration check, Stewart said.

Gabriela Rivera-Oven, a resident of Montgomery County in nearby Maryland for the past two decades, said, "It's easy to blame the all the ills of this world on this group, because they don't have a real political voice." According to Rivera-Oven, "They're blamed for everything: from usage of hospitals, school money. But there's really no facts on this."

Local police questioning about immigration status during investigations "creates a lot of fear among immigrants particularly in domestic violence situations where we have seen both women and men are afraid to report crimes," observes Ruben Chandrasekar, AFSC staff in Baltimore, Maryland. "It's a public safety issue and eroding a lot of trust that police may have built in immigrant communities," he added.

Earlier this month Stewart sent a letter to the county's Human Rights Commission calling for the body not to criticize the resolution. "It is not the role of Board-appointed citizen advisory groups to critique the Board's policies after those policies have been adopted," Stewart wrote.

Take Action: The Prince William resolution does not become operative until October 10 and can be overturned. Join Prince William County residents and partners including Mexicans Without Borders and the Woodbridge Workers Committee. Let them know they are not alone in this call for equal treatment and respect for civil rights.

"... And Who Is My Neighbor?"
Join the peaceful march and rally against Prince William's
pending anti-immigrant ordinance

3:00 p.m., Sunday, September 2, 2007
McCoart Administration Bldg. 1 County Complex Ct, Woodbridge, VA 221921 (at Prince William Pkwy)
For more information click here or contact

Starting at 12 noon on Sunday, September 2 buses will travel from Malcom X Park (Corner of 16th & Euclid Street NW) in Washington, DC to the rally. For more information and to RSVP contact NCIC at (202) 462-7042 or e-mail

Community Press Conference
On August 27 at 11:00 am at Chinn Regional Library of Prince William County (13065 Chinn Park Drive Prince William, VA 22192-5073) organizations from around the region will mark the beginning of the week long economic boycott in Prince William to rescind the resolution.

The press conference will be followed by a 2 hour vigil outside of Potomac Mills Mall to remind people of the economic contributions made by immigrants. Businesses which display signs against the resolution will be exempt from the boycott. For more information contact