Harsh Immigration Policies Cause Conflict in Prince William County

The Washington Post ran a story today about the decline in the Latino population in Prince William County, Virginia following the implementation of some of the harshest local anti-immigrant laws in the country.  The county is experiencing tension between residents who are relieved to see the immigrants go and those who are upset at the anti-immigrant laws, living in fear for themselves or their relatives because of the laws, or facing economic hardship because of lack of immigrants.

Some excerpts:

“You can’t attribute all of what might be negative about the economy in Prince William County to the crackdown,” said economist Stephen Fuller, director of George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis. “But it certainly hasn’t helped. Neighborhoods that have been weakened because of migration of the Hispanic community out of the county have economic consequences that show up as decreases in retail spending, rental income and potential decreases in the valuation of some housing.”

That decrease — home prices in some areas have fallen by half — is well worth the improvement in quality of life, according to the most ardent supporters of the county’s get-tough approach.

“With an empty house, there’s hope that the house is going to have somebody move into it that’s going to be a good neighbor, rather than an overcrowded house that is a neighbor from hell,” Letiecq [a blogger and president of Help Save Manassas, an anti-immigrant group] said, adding that his Manassas area home has dropped $100,000 in value in the past year.

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