Groups May Challenge Va. Immigration Opinion

Activists threaten to sue, saying enforcement position goes too far

By Kathy Banks
|  Wednesday, Aug 4, 2010  |  Updated 11:01 PM EDT
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Opponents to tougher illegal immigration laws threaten to sue those pursuing them in <a title=Virginia." />

Tracee Wilkins

Opponents to tougher illegal immigration laws threaten to sue those pursuing them in Virginia.

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Some activists in Virginia said the Commonwealth's position on immigration enforcement goes too far.

They're threatening to sue the state, its agencies and individual police officers.
 
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said police in the Commonwealth have the authority to question people about their immigration status if they are stopped or arrested. He issued the legal opinion Friday. Gov. Bob McDonnell supports it.
 
Several civil rights activists met in Alexandria Wednesday to challenge the opinion.
 
“Police do not have the authority to make stops, to make arrests, based on civil immigration status violations,” civil rights attorney Simon Sandoval-Moshenberg said.
 
State Delegate David Englin, D-45th, also attended the meeting. He said,
 
“We cannot abide an effort by a small group of anti-immigrant public officials to circumvent the General Assembly and create police powers that do not currently exist in Virginia law,” he said.
 
Cuccinelli said there are limits to the enforcements. Officers can ask about immigration status during traffic stops or criminal investigations only. And he added, even then, police are not required to ask, they are just authorized to do so.

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