[Yes, as a matter of fact, that WAS a typo in original title! (-;]
As much as I love the scenery, history, and food of the great state of Virginia, in which I resided off and on during my State Department years, I have always been somewhat shocked with their legal interpretations and rulings. Today that rep is solidly concerned with their Attorney General's unsolicited and patently wrong legal opinion regarding Arizona's immigration law. But first a story...
As a young consular officer on a temp assignment in DC, I had a landlord unlawfully refuse to reimburse a security deposit. I took her to Virginia small claims court and won in minutes; restitution and costs were ordered. Her attorney, knowing I was in Mexico, filed an appeal but deliberately sent it to an erroneous address; almost a year later, I opened up my pay stub to find a garnishment of my wages based upon a fabricated counterclaim and ruling for the landlord based upon my no-show at the appellate hearing, of which I'd never been legally notified. I flew to Virginia, outraged at the fraud committed by the attorney, which was readily documented via multiple receipts of certified letters advising her of my move to Mexico; it was a very rotten trick and I was confident that, once exposed, the Court would reverse the decision and possibly recommend bar sanctions against the newly graduated attorney. But after going through all legal channels and documenting everything, they couldn't care less. Know what Virginia said?
That spirit of rotten legal thinking is alive and well, apparently. Virginia State Attorney Cuccinelli wrote that local law enforcement officers
can arrest those they suspect of committing criminal violations of
immigration laws -- crossing the border -- but not those they think have
violated civil immigration statutes -- overstaying visas. Rather paradoxically, he added that that it is generally
"inadvisable" to arrest those suspected of committing civil violations.
"The ability to arrest lies clearly when there is a criminal offense and
it is decidedly unclear where there is a civil offense," he said.
Apparently Mr. Cuccinelli is confident that a police officer with essentially zero knowledge of U.S. immigration laws has the expertise to distinguish between a "civil" immigration violation and one which is "criminal".
Something's still rotten in Virginia's legal way of thinking, and an attorney as distinguished as Mr. Cuccinelli should be ashamed of himself for rendering an academic legal opinion which wholly ignores the realities of law enforcement and can only lead to more intrusive police inquiries which patently violate federal laws.