Prince William Illegal Immigration Crackdown Revving Up

WASHINGTON -- Prince William County's crackdown on illegal immigration may be adding up -- both in suspects and in cost.

The county has already found more than 450 illegal immigrants in the county jail -- with 240 already turned over to federal authorities. The county's next step in the crackdown, training police officers to check the legal residency of anyone pulled over for a traffic offense, begins this week.

Corey Stewart, Chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, says police might actually start to use that training early next year.

"We have to fully fund a criminal alien unit, and begin to hire more police officers to fill that unit," said Stewart. "My top priority in 2008 is to fully implement and enforce our measures against illegal immigration."

However, that could be tough to do for a county that is already pressed financially by the housing slump. The crackdown will cost $2.5 million, or about .5 percent of the tax rate, in just the first year. The county is facing some tight budget constraints for 2008 because of the slump in the housing market, and a potential tax increase.

The counties policy is being challenged in the federal courts.