The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to direct County Administrator Kirby Bowers to look into which services the county can deny illegal immigrants and report back to the board in September, during its Tuesday, July 17 business meeting.
The last-minute addition to the board’s agenda was the result of an item put forward by Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling), following similar actions taken by Prince William County.
"Illegal immigration is continuing to take a greater toll in the county, particular in Sterling Park," Delgaudio said. "It is an insult to native-born taxpayers and taxpayers who have taken the time come to here legally."
Delgaudio said the resolution was the next step down the path to solve the county’s illegal immigration problem.
"We need help here," he said at a Tuesday morning press conference to announce the resolution. "We need help in Sterling. We need help in Loudoun."
WHILE THE RESOLUTION does not allow for any immediate restriction of services and reaffirms the importance of legal immigration to the county, board members agreed that illegal immigration has become a bigger problem in Loudoun.
"[Supervisor] Delgaudio has had a problem down in his area for a long time," Supervisor Jim Clem (R-Leesburg) said. "But make no mistake, [Supervisor Sally] Kurtz, [Supervisor Jim] Burton, and myself, we have these kind of activities in our districts all the time."
Even though the resolution passed unanimously, some supervisors cautioned their fellow board members from rushing forward without first consulting County Attorney John R. Roberts on all the potential legal issues.
"My objection is being railroaded through something that is so important that I think needs further thought than 10 or 15 minutes of debate," Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said. "I want to do something about [illegal immigration]. I just want us to take the time. I think that would be better for us in the long run."
Chairman Scott K. York (I-At large) said he did not want to rush into anything permanent, but was comfortable supporting the resolution since it did not contain any binding action.
"We are a nation of immigrants," he said. "We welcome immigrants, but we want everyone to be in our country legally."
IN ADDITION TO instructing Bowers to look at the county services, the board instructed him to look into whether the county can withhold business licenses and permits from employers who hire workers without proper immigration documents.
"There are laws on the books already requiring employer verification, but I think there is something that can be done at the local level," Supervisor Lori Waters (R-Broad Run) said.
Supervisors also had strong words for the federal government, saying they were being forced to debate an issue that should be dealt with at the national level.
"Unfortunately local governments find themselves being forced to deal with an issue that the federal government refuses to deal with," York said. "The president and certain members of Congress have put their heads in the sand."
"The current system is too complex and time consuming, but that it is not an excuse to turn a blind cheek to our laws," Supervisor Bruce E. Tulloch (R-Potomac) said. "Maybe by local government having this debate the state government and the federal government will take the action to protect the citizens of Loudoun County, Virginia."