Immigration Law's Drafter Named to County Panel

By Kristen Mack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 2008

Robert L. Duecaster, who is secretary of Help Save Manassas and helped craft Prince William County's illegal immigration crackdown, was appointed to a strategic goals task force Tuesday, over the opposition of some members of the Board of County Supervisors and residents.

Supervisors rarely question appointments by their colleagues. Yet on Tuesday, they discussed Duecaster's nomination by Supervisor John T. Stirrup Jr. (R-Gainesville) in closed session before publicly voting. Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R-At Large) said he didn't think it was right to have a closed session. But some supervisors wanted to review taped statements Duecaster previously made before voting.

The board approved the appointment 5 to 3, with supervisors Maureen S. Caddigan (R-Dumfries), John D. Jenkins (D-Neabsco) and Frank J. Principi (D-Woodbridge) voting no.

Board and commission appointments usually take place with little comment, but several people spoke against Duecaster's nomination.

Each supervisor appoints a resident of his or her district to serve on one of four strategic goals task forces: education, human services, public safety, and economic development and transportation. Duecaster was nominated to serve on the human services task force.

Prince William's strategic goals will guide policy and budget decisions for the next four years. The task forces are charged with "composing the community outcomes and strategies" for each goal, according to the resolution the board adopted.

Elena Schlossberg-Kunkel, an opponent of illegal immigration enforcement, said Duecaster's appointment to a task force that affects the most at-risk county residents was troublesome.

"My concern is that he promotes an extremist agenda and that it will be codified in public policy. What more dangerous place to make someone mainstream than public policy for the entire county?" she said, adding that his contribution may "shut down any real productive work that might happen on this committee."

Duecaster, who has frequently shown up to citizens' time at supervisors meetings to speak in favor of cracking down on illegal immigration, has made controversial comments.

"This issue is really not about immigration or illegality or legality. It's not about economics. I'm going to tell you right now what it's about. It's about an invasion of this country," he said during October's board meeting, at which supervisors passed the initial policy.

"This country is being invaded no less than if hordes of armed people were coming across its border. This invasion is not armed, but they've got weapons. The weapons they use are their anchor babies."

On Tuesday, he arrived during the closed session. Although he drafted the policy, Duecaster, a lawyer, said he doesn't take credit for it.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company