Immigration Heats Up as Virginia Issue

Virginia is bound to be an immigration battleground state -- if Virginia politicians have anything to do with it.

Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said that Virginia police have the authority to ask people they stop about their immigration status during criminal investigations.

His opinion confirms that law enforcement officers in Virginia have the same right as Arizona police to inquire about immigration status in special circumstances. Civilian authorities investigating zoning issues, for example, do not have the right to compel someone to reveal his immigration status, and police investigating criminal cases, who may question someone over immigration status, cannot substantially lengthen a stop with an inquiry over immigration.

Cuccinelli's opinion comes in response to a question raised by Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13th) from Prince William County. The County made waves last week when Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart proposed new legislation regarding illegal immigration. His proposed statewide "Rule of Law" legislation, modeled after Arizona's controversial law, is notable given that Stewart does not hold a state office.

Cuccinelli filed an amicus curiae brief on behalf of Virginia for the state of Arizona in the run-up to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton's decision on the latter state's immigration law -- provisions of which were struck down.

Cuccinelli, who tweeted in anticipation about the Arizona decision, told the Washington Post he had "mixed feelings" about the Arizona decision. His feelings about the substance of the law itself are apparently clearer.

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