Fairfax To Count Illegal Immigrants And Identify County Services They Use

Fairfax to count illegal immigrants and identify county services they use

by William C. Flook,
The Examiner
Oct 17, 2007

Fairfax County is joining the growing ranks of local governments focusing on the impact of illegal immigrants in their jurisdictions. Seen above are pro-immigration activists attending a recent rally in the greater Washington area.

Fairfax (Map, News) – Fairfax County Executive Anthony Griffin ordered high-level staff this month to quantify the number of illegal immigrants living in the county and identify what services the county must provide them, according to a memorandum obtained by The Examiner.

The Oct. 1 document undermines the countys argument that it cares only about illegal behavior and not legal status, showing that officials are working quietly to assess one of the most explosive issues in Northern Virginia.

Griffin said Tuesday he prepared the memo after an inquiry this summer from Supervisor Michael Frey, a Republican who represents the Sully District. Frey said he hasnt yet received an answer on what the county is doing to address illegal aliens.

I suspect there may be some politics involved in not wanting to give out those answers, because those answer may not be what they are supposed to be, Frey said.

Publicly, county officials have been largely mum on the matter of illegal aliens, while neighboring jurisdictions like Loudoun and Prince William have undertaken highly publicized and controversial crackdowns. Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart has attacked his counterpart in Fairfax, Gerry Connolly, for failing to address the problem. Connolly has dismissed the crackdowns as election-year bluster that would be impossible to legally implement.

Griffins memo seeks not only the number of persons who reside in the county who are not legally present in the United States, but a summary of the programs and services the county is required to provide regardless of legal status and those it can only provide to legal residents.

The results, he wrote, will be considered working papers that are exempt from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Griffin said he kept the information temporarily proprietary because Ive been burned before on data that were released early. It will, he said, eventually be made public.

Open-records advocate Jennifer Perkins, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, criticized Griffins decision.

This is information that is very important to the public … and I would hope the chief executive would have the foresight to share this with his constituents, she said.



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