May 3, 2006
Washington, DC—Tuesday’s municipal elections in Herndon, Virginia, were about one issue: illegal immigration. Last year, in the face of overwhelming public opposition, the mayor and a majority on the town council approved a publicly funded day labor hiring center that is used almost exclusively by illegal alien workers. On Tuesday, all but one local official who backed the illegal alien hiring center received pink slips from the voters.
Heading the list of those sent packing by Herndon voters was incumbent Mayor Michael O’Reilly who resolutely ignored public opposition to accommodating illegal alien laborers who strain municipal services, disrupt civic life, and undermine legitimate businesses and contractors in the northern Virginia town. Joining Mayor O’Reilly on the unemployment line is nearly every member of the town council who voted to use public funds to construct and operate the hiring center.
“Herndon is a harbinger of what is to come for other politicians who disregard the public’s growing anger over mass illegal immigration,” predicted Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “The message to local, state and national politicians is clear: Pander to the special interests that constitute the illegal alien lobby and you will find yourselves looking for a different line of work come Election Day.”
The Herndon vote came one day after the national day of protest and boycott by illegal aliens and their supporters, and amidst a heated debate in Washington about immigration. President Bush and many in the Senate are backing a proposal that would grant amnesty to upwards of 12 million illegal aliens and flood the American labor market with millions more guest workers.
“Monday was billed as ‘a day without an immigrant.’ For supporters of illegal aliens in Herndon, Tuesday turned out to be ‘a day without a political career,’” said Stein. “If Congress does not turn its attention over the next few months to addressing the voters’ demands for meaningful enforcement of America’s immigration laws and rejecting calls for an illegal alien amnesty, there will be many more politicians around the country who share Mayor O’Reilly’s and the Herndon Town Council’s fate.”
According to a newly released national poll by the Zogby Group, 64 percent of likely voters said they support the enforcement-only approach taken by the House of Representatives in a bill that was passed last December. Only 30 percent expressed support for the Bush/Senate proposal to grant amnesty to illegal aliens. Only 2 percent of voters said they were in favor of Senate proposals to increase legal immigration.
“Public opinion has always clearly favored strong immigration enforcement and rejected accommodating illegal aliens with hiring centers, access to public benefits and service, and amnesty. Now those sentiments are being expressed at the ballot box, and any politician who ignores them does so at his or her own peril,” said Stein. “As the soon to be former mayor and town council in Herndon have discovered, immigration is now an issue that decides elections. While illegal aliens and their supporters make a lot of noise on the streets, the voters still have the last word at the ballot box.”