of the division in her community over immigration, Johnson-Firth says,
I wouldnt say its racism,
the facts straight about immigration
Editorial by Lisa Johnson-Firth, Esq.
Manassas Journal Messenger
May 7, 2008
In light of Mr. Stewarts recent actions to solicit support from the public for his rule of law resolution, I would like to encourage the board to be vigilant about getting the facts concerning immigrants in Prince William County. For instance, there has not been a decrease in serious crime because most of the immigrants detained were picked up for minor traffic violations.
It does not take a two-year study to see that the resolution has already had a drastically negative impact on the county and the rule of law under the Constitution. We now have ghost neighborhoods, school and ESL classes down in attendance, increased community fear and home foreclosures, 40 to 80 percent business drop-offs for some business owners, increased hate-speech rhetoric, police due process violations, anecdotal evidence of profiling and the building of negative perceptions. There are also new family issues to grapple with.
For those of us raising children, it becomes challenging to teach the concept of love your neighbor as yourself when the next door neighbor is being deported or is fearfully fleeing.
Even at this early stage, it should be evident to the board that the resolution was ill-guided and must be rescinded or, at the least, suspended, while the board conducts hearings and solicits expert testimony and studies. An easy solution would be to recognize current federal and state laws supporting immigration enforcement, including the recent 287(g) agreements between ICE and the Prince William County police and sheriffs office, and the Prince William-Manassas Adult Detention Center.
advise immigrants before Pr. William crackdown
week before the crackdown is scheduled to occur, lawyers and civil rights
advocates are giving information to the immigrant community about what
to expect once the resolution becomes effective.
Pr. William jail backlog raises questions of ICE ability
February 7, 2008
Prince William County has such a large backlog of jail inmates who have been identified as illegal immigrants under the first phase of a new crackdown that the federal government cannot keep up, raising concerns about the governments ability to handle the second phase coming in March.
Im hearing many, many cases of people are being picked up for very minor crimes and being put in detainers, and then having to wait, said Lisa Johnson-Firth, a Manassas immigration lawyer.
Illegals at center of testy exchange - N.Va. county's ordinance under scrutiny during civil rights
December 15, 2007
Prince William County's tough new measures targeting illegal immigrants prompted a heated exchange at
a federal civil rights panel's hearing yesterday.
Lisa Johnson-Firth was quoted as saying that, racial profiling already is occurring in Prince William County and that her law partner from Eritrea had been stopped three times in the past few months. She said one officer asked her partner why she was on "this side of town."
Although a federal judge recently dismissed a lawsuit filed by opponents of the county's measures, Johnson-Firth said she and other lawyers are assembling plaintiffs for a new lawsuit challenging the
Immigrants Stand Their Ground
October 25, 2007
Latino immigrants and lawyers in Prince William County are working to inform immigrants about the policy
change in the county that will target out of status immigrants.
Lisa Johnson Firth, an immigration lawyer in Manassas, said her firm is advising callers and clients about how to prepare for the possibility of being detained and deported.
"They need to have a plan. They should have money in the bank, emergency transportation, someone who can care for their children, someone who knows where their documents are," said Johnson-Firth, who was handing out legal rights fliers in a church basement last Thursday night. "Once they are detained and may be deported, everything becomes much more difficult."
Working with other rights groups, Johnson-Firth's office has also printed remain silent cards that immigrants can hand to the police which indicate they are maintaining their right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. Johnson-Firth made it clear that even illegal immigrants are entitled to full due process.