Did the immigration debate influence Virginia voters?
DALE CITY, Va. – Illegal immigration has been a hot button issue across the Washington region over the last few years and it may have had an impact on Tuesday’s election results.
Prince William County has been at the epicenter of the debate, and became one of the first counties in the country to crackdown on illegal immigrants in 2007 by allowing police to check the citizenship status of everyone they arrest.
Last month, the Obama administration announced that program will be suspended Dec. 31.
“The racial issue and the immigration issue is easily overstated here,” says Prince William Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who is a likely Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 2013.
He says there is no reason to change course based on the election results.
“What’s right is right. I believe that if you are here illegally, you should be deported,” he says. “It’s pretty simple.”
But Arlington County boardmember Walter Tejada, a Democrat, says the election sent a very specific message.
“It’s time for the Republican party to rethink their punitive, harsh approach toward the Latino community, toward the immigrant community,” he says, adding that years of helping to register Hispanics voters has paid off.
“Participating in civic life is crucial for our future,” Tejada says. “It’s now bearing fruit.”
President Barack Obama won Northern Virginia in Tuesday’s election and polled 56 percent in Prince William County.