Tougher illegal immigration law could spread statewide in Va. 

Polarizing legislation passed in Prince William County in 2007 to crack down on illegal immigration might soon reach throughout the state of Virginia.

Delegate L. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) recently introduced legislation to the House of Delegates to toughen an existing state law that requires sheriffs to inquire as to a person's legal status when he or she is taken into custody at a jail. The new law, modeled on Prince William's, would require inquiries to be made of every person arrested. If a warrantless arrest is made but the officer suspects the person is in the U.S. illegally, a judicial officer could decide to deny the person bail.

Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart (R-At Large) cheered Lingamfelter's move, saying on Thursday that "the strength of this policy is that it mandates the status check and establishes a bright line for Virginia law enforcement, avoiding racial-profiling accusations." Stewart has hinted at a possible run for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

The bill has been referred to the delegates' Committee for Courts of Justice.

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Leah Fabel

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