Suburban Immigration Warriors Confuse Press

Prince William County, Virginia did something this week to address social and financial problems stemming from its recent crackdown on immigrants. What exactly it did is not entirely clear:

Washington Post headline: “Pr. William Softens Policy on Immigration Status Checks.”

Washington Times headline: “Prince William stiffens crackdown on illegals.”

Washington Examiner headline: “Pr. William softens illegal immigration policy.”

NBC 4 played it safe with “Prince William Votes To Change Immigration Enforcement.”

So what happened? As the Post and the Examiner report, the board of supervisors in this wealthy D.C. suburb, where police have been checking the immigration status of crime suspects, changed the policy slightly. Now the police only check the status of those arrested. (A proposal to check only those arrested and put in jail failed by a wide margin.)

While the Washington Times immigration coverage is always suspect, and the paper’s editorial page has been pushing the county to stay the course, in this case they do point to another change in policy: whereas before, local police needed “probable cause” that the person was undocumented (wonder what that means?), they now check everybody. Broadening the law, claimed the supervisors, would help protect them from lawsuits for racial profiling. But as Chairman Corey Stewart, leader of the crackdown, asserted, “This will increase the number of people who will have their immigration status checked.”

In any event, it’s hardly the “reconsideration” of the crackdown we were teased with in April.