HELP SAVE MANASSAS RESPONDS TO STATEMENTS BY MANASSAS PARK GOVERNING BOARD

August 24th, 2007

MANASSAS, VIRGINIA:  Help Save Manassas, a grass-roots organization comprised of 1,489 concerned citizens in Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William County, issued the following statement in response to statements by members of the Manassas Park Governing Board and their "Statement On Illegal Immigration" that was adopted on August 21st, 2007.  For additional information regarding Help Save Manassas, please visit http://www.helpsavemanassas.org

Statement Of Help Save Manassas

This Tuesday the Manassas Park Governing Board issued a statement that characterized Help Save Manassas, an organization that currently includes hundreds of motivated residents of the City of Manassas Park as members, as pursuing a "vigilante agenda". This false characterization detracts from honest efforts to develop and implement legislative solutions at the local level which address the impacts that the presence of illegal aliens have on our communities It also demonstrates a disturbing intransigence on the part of the Manassas Park Governing board towards responsible, common-sense proposals that will improve the safety and quality of life of legal residents and citizens in Manassas Park, and the entire region.

The term "vigilante" refers to those who take the law into their own hands, often violently and summarily, without recourse to lawful procedures. Help Save Manassas does not, and has never supported vigilantism, and instead has educated citizens on the issue of illegal immigration and helped them effectively engage with their elected officials to seek responsible legislative solutions in Prince William County, Manassas, and Manassas Park. We call on the Manassas Park Governing Board which has unanimously endorsed this false statement to either substantiate it, or retract it. Irresponsible and deliberate mischaracterizations regarding the legitimate concerns of their constituents and those residing in surrounding jurisdictions who are affected by the policies in place in Manassas Park is not at all a hallmark of the good government that residents of Manassas Park so richly deserve.

Help Save Manassas takes further exception to the position stated by the Governing Board that there is nothing they can do to protect the interests of their citizens from the large number of illegal aliens which reside in Manassas Park. Recently, a person who was driving without a license was apprehended by the Manassas Park Police Department, and was released from custody after providing three false identities. This person is suspected in the murder of Manassas City resident Breneley Ester Lessing-Yanes on the day after he was released from custody on a $1,000 bond. The address the suspect in this case provided to police, which they apparently never bothered to confirm, is that of a vacant lot behind a 7-11 on Ashton Avenue in the City of Manassas. Had Manassas Park's Governing Board taken a no tolerance policy toward illegals aliens who commit crimes, participation in the Section 287(g) program might have been earlier implemented to include deportations for any offense within Manassas Park and Jose Martinez-Zeron would have been in the custody of ICE on August 14th.  Instead, he is suspected of committing the first homicide in the city of Manassas in 2007.

Manassas Park currently permits building renovations that encourage residential overcrowding, resulting in dozens of overcrowded "hotels" within the City which degrade the quality of life, and encourage the unlawful presence of illegal aliens. Manassas Park is unique in this regard, as Manassas and Prince William County do not permit this dramatic rebuilding of single family residences into monstrosities designed to house dozens of people. Denying permits that will create these public nuisances is well within the power of the City, yet the Governing Board has ignored multiple calls from residents to address this pressing issue, and it appears that the granting of such permits continues unabated.

Manassas Park has the power to ensure effective law enforcement policies, and actually begin to enforce existing ordinances regarding the licensing and permitting of pushcart vendors -- many of whom are rumored to be illegal aliens, but has not done so as has happened in Manassas City and Prince William County. It has the power to require that those businesses contracting with the City do not hire illegal aliens, a legislative prerogative to which there has never been a legal challenge. The City could reiterate it's intent to comply with existing federal law and ensure that illegal aliens do not receive statutory benefits to which they are not eligible. These are only a few of the many options available to the Governing Board, if they are actually interested in addressing this issue in any meaningful way. So far they have chosen to do little more than wrongfully impugn the motives and intentions of those voters who are attempting to establish a dialog with Manassas Park's government.  A more productive approach to this issue is clearly warranted.

Manassas Park has agreed to participate in the Section 287(g) Program in some way, a positive development which has come as a surprise to Manassas Park residents as well as members of Help Save Manassas. This small step should be the beginning of a long-term effort to take advantage of the opportunities that are appropriate to the local circumstances, are fiscally responsible, and that will help to erase the widely-held perception that Manassas Park is a sanctuary jurisdiction for illegal aliens. Help Save Manassas will continue to educate the electorate and the Governing Board about the actual conditions residents face in Manassas Park and what opportunities for reform might be employed in Manassas Park. We stand ready to join with Manassas Park in calling on the Virginia General Assembly to provide more effective tools which will help localities better enforce zoning and building codes, as well as promote other initiatives which will reduce the number of illegal aliens residing in Virginia, when the General Assembly goes back into session in January.

Help Save Manassas and the Manassas Park Governing Board both agree that illegal aliens are a problem in Manassas Park. By working together in an effective manner, we are confident that it will be possible to address this recognized problem in a responsible manner to the benefit of not only the residents of Manassas Park, but those within the entire region.  It is our hope that the Governing Board of Manassas Park will be as committed to seeking effective and responsible solutions to address this important issue, just as the members of Help Save Manassas have dedicated themselves.  If redress of the concerns of Manassas Park's residents cannot be effected through legislative action, the citizens of Manassas Park ultimately have a right to effect redress through the democratic process.



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