Bruce Is Spoiling For a Fight Over Immigration Issue

By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 3, 2007

Carol Bruce said she made a promise to herself last October, when the Herndon Town Council passed a law requiring individual business owners to prove legal immigration status before receiving a business license.

She wasn't going to do it.

"I said to myself, 'This is offensive, discriminatory and illegal,' " said Bruce, 59, a former council member and acting mayor who owns a small communications firm in Herndon. She lost her council seat last year after a bitter community debate over the opening of a publicly funded assembly site for immigrant day laborers.

So when Bruce filed to renew her license, she didn't submit the required sworn statement. Her plan was to lose her license, kick up a debate over the ordinance and, hopefully, get it rescinded.

Instead, the town mailed her a new license March 14.

"Someone decided that if they went ahead and quietly gave me the license I would quietly go away," she said.

The ordinance is one in a series of measures undertaken by the Town Council to crack down on illegal immigration. Business licenses have traditionally served as revenue-raising tools, with governments charging owners a set percentage of projected gross sales. But Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell said local governments can withhold licenses from applicants who are not living legally in the United States.

Town officials said that Bruce is one of about 20 residents who were mistakenly issued licenses without providing the sworn statement and that most have since voluntarily complied. They have given her until May 7 to produce the proof or face revocation of her license. Bruce said she still has no plans to cooperate. A lawsuit is a possibility.

"We'll see who blinks first," she said.

Town Attorney Richard B. Kaufman declined to comment.

Off-Duty Candidate

Jeff McKay is a Democrat running for the Fairfax Board of Supervisors' open seat in Lee District. He is also keeping his day job as chief of staff to Supervisor T. Dana Kauffman (D-Lee), whose retirement is creating the vacancy.

Any problem here? Not according to Kauffman, County Attorney David P. Bobzien and Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. They've all signed off on McKay's remaining on the payroll. The county's personnel regulations say that as long as Kauffman states that McKay's candidacy will not adversely his performance of his official duties, he can stay. Kauffman, who supports McKay, said losing him "would be tantamount to cutting off my right arm."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company