At the Value Voters Summit this past weekend, Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Supervisors in Virginia, led a panel on “The Threat of Illegal Immigration.” After boasting about the success of the county’s 287(g) agreement with the Department of Homeland Security which allowed its local police to enforce immigration law, Stewart definitively argued that the controversial program has not led to “a single case of racial profiling” in Prince William County.
Stewart also defended a 287(g) champion, Arizona’s Maricopa County Police Chief Joe Arpaio, who is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice (DOJ) following “allegations of discriminatory practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.” Stewart agrees with Arpaio that the investigation is a politically-motivated attack on the Sheriff on behalf of the Obama administration. Ultimately, Corey stated that he’d like to see all “illegal aliens” deported or leave the country:
There has not been one substantiated case of racial profiling in Prince William County due to this [287(g)] policy. I think that the Sheriff [Joe Arpaio] has been targeted by the Obama Administration. And I think it’s because he’s just doing the job of protecting the citizens of his locality and I support him in his efforts. I know what it’s like to be targeted by the liberal establishment in Washington for simply enforcing the law…I support a policy that would deport illegal aliens. Period.
Prince William County Police Chief Charlie T. Deane is less enthusiastic about the 287(g) program. According to Deane, resident satisfaction with the police department has decreased in response to the police department’s new role in immigration enforcement. Former Arizona Police Chief George Gascon went as far to say that the program is “setting the police profession back to the 1950s and 60s, when police officers were sometimes viewed in minority communities as the enemy.” Several reports have come out saying that 287(g) is expensive, breeds racial profiling and civil rights violations, and makes communities less safe because police end up focusing more on chasing immigrant traffic violators than fighting serious crime.
Prince William County may have not caught the attention of DOJ officials, but the claim that there is no racial profiling is dubious at best. The immigration resolution that Stewart championed was allegedly drafted with the help of a designated hate group and the community’s decision to enter the agreement itself was marked by anti-immigrant vitriol that boiled down to a strong sentiment to “repel this [immigrant] invasion.” Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recently filed papers on behalf of four Latino men who were arrested for loitering while standing on a public sidewalk in Prince William County. According to the ACLU, “these individuals were targeted because of their ethnicity” and “the anti-immigrant policies and resultant anti-immigrant climate that currently exist in Prince William County inevitably give rise to these kinds of abuses.”
So far, the most egregious case of potential racial profiling and civil rights abuse involved Agueda Dominguez, a Salvadoran immigrant who has legally lived in the US for eleven years and has a valid driver’s license. Dominguez ended up bloodied and hospitalized after a Prince William cop pulled her over for a burned out headlight. According to Dominguez, she was attacked with pepper spray, dragged out of her car, pulled to the ground by the hair, and brutally beaten by the police officer after refusing to sign a citation that she couldn’t read. A local news station quoted Dominguez saying that she was singled out because she’s an immigrant:
There are too many of us immigrants who keep quiet about these things because we are afraid…It’s unjust how they treat us Latinos, it’s purely discrimination…It hurts a lot…you come to the United States to pursue a dream and this type of stuff happens…especially in the Hispanic community. Most people are scared and so I just decided to step up and show everybody that we can stand up and defend ourselves.
The resisting charge against Agueda Dominguez that was later amended to obstruction of justice was dismissed. As of July, state police were still investigating whether the policeman who pulled her over acted improperly.