Spend more on homeless veterans and less on helping illegal immigrants; that was the message from members of Protect Virginia Now (PVN) to federal and state lawmakers during a Monday afternoon press conference in Arlington.
"There are 400,000 men and women who served America in uniform who are on our streets tonight," said Brian Hampton, spokesman for PVN's Virginia Chapter. "Yet in recent years Virginia has budgeted only one-100th of percent of its budget to help homeless veterans."
PVN, Hampton said, registered this week with the state board of elections as an official political action committee. Hampton, a retired Army major, outlined the group's three-point "plan of attack" to bring more money to veterans in need by decreasing spending on illegal immigrants.
"First, we call on the U.S. Congress and the Virginia delegation to lead the charge in raising spending for homeless veterans to 1 percent of the Virginia budget," Hampton said. "Second, we call on Congress to defeat the preposterous guest worker programs that would give illegal aliens legal status as long as they are employed for at least six years and that promises incentives, tax preferred saving accounts and for retirement. For illegal aliens, who cheated and broke the law? How about for American veterans who stood up with their lives?"
The third prong of PVN's trident, Hampton said, is public support for legislation like a bill put forth by Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-24) that reached Gov. Mark Warner's desk last week which would deny state benefits to anyone who cannot offer proof of U.S. citizenship.
"I certainly welcome their support, Hanger said of PVN.
Hanger added that he believes Warner will sign the bill into law later this week.
"At one point, I had heard there might be an amendment to it, but now I'm hearing that it will be signed as it is," said Hanger.
A similar measure was introduced by Del. David Albo (R-42).
The press conference in Arlington was one of six held across the United States by Protect America Now, PVN's parent organization.
"We're spending tens of millions of dollars on non-citizens," Hampton said. "It's a good thing to do but we have to prioritize. We're suggesting that our country get back to its core, that we need to support our veterans and our soldiers."
Hampton added that PVN plans to engage more politicians in its cause.
"OUR METHOD OF operation is to put the spotlight on politicians who might act as obstructionists," he said. "We'll be urging them to get on board."
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization that states it promotes a "pro-immigrant and low immigration" vision of the United States, each illegal immigrant saddles American taxpayers with about $65,000 in associated costs. A study from the states Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission, states that immigrants account for about 8 percent of the Commonwealth's total population. That same study contradicts Hampton's statements on illegal immigrants, indicating that they do not place a disproportionate burden on state and local governments. Accurate numbers on how many illegal immigrants inhabit the state can be hard to come by but another organization the Migration Policy Institute, estimates there are at least 100,000 in Virginia.