PRINCE WILLIAM CO., VA (WUSA9) - The man who claimed to be Trump before Trump was Trump, Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart, is pushing for a massive deportation of undocumented immigrants in his county.
He wants the local police department to work with ICE to locate and deport immigrants who have been arrested in the past and released back into the community.
"On behalf of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, I'm requesting the Trump administration to identify, detain and remove the 7,500 criminal illegal aliens that we have handed over to ICE in the past 10 years," said Stewart.
Stewart, a Republican who's running for governor in Virginia, says he's hoping the Trump administration helps the county do this.
But his new proposal harkens back to a dark period when Stewart began cracking down on illegal immigration, led by Stewart, says immigrate advocate Nancy Lyall.
"Ten years ago, he divided this community," said Lyall. She remembers the KKK showing up to back the effort.
"It was horrendous...and we pushed back," Lyall said.
She and Michelle Larue, CASA Virginia Executive Director, say Stewart's use of the "criminal" is wrong since the immigrants Stewart is talking about only have arrest records.
"In this county, you're innocent until proven guilty...Arrest is not the same thing as a conviction," said Larue.
Stewart critics calls the announcement "political theatrics" for his gubernatorial campaign, but the Stewart insists his effort is sincere and he's not worried about a backlash.
"I am doing what I think is right," and what the Board voted for two weeks ago, Stewart said.
But Supervisor Frank Principi says Stewart is using "alternative facts" and twisting the board's vote on a broader legislative platform concerning policing.
"What about due process and the guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment? There was no mention of that," said Principi who said Stewart's announcement took him and other board members by surprise.
Principi says Stewart is redefining the term "criminal alien" which comes from President Trump's executive order on Sanctuary Cities.
Principi says if this new definition and crackdown is allowed through the 287G ICE program, it'll create a "police state" in Prince William County.
He plans to fight it, "I don't think me and colleagues will allow it."
The 287G program is an agreement made between counties, if they chose, and ICE which allow cooperation on deporting undocumented immigrants who commit crimes.
Prince William is the only Virginia county that takes part.
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