RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Ralph Northam vetoed a bill that would ban sanctuary cities.
Introduced by Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, House Bill 1257 would restrict localities from passing sanctuary policies, which limit cooperation with national immigration enforcement efforts to improve relations with immigrant communities. The legislation would require localities to follow immigration standards set by federal law, including collaborating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Northam has said that sanctuary cities have not been a problem in the state; similar legislation last year was vetoed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Sen. Charles Carrico, R-Grayson, who supported the bill, cited the presence of violent gangs in the state including MS-13.
“Without a law such as this,” Carrico said, “if a locality wants to create a sanctuary city, then what you’re doing, in essence, is protecting those gang members from ever being deported.”
Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, countered that the legislation is “a message bill.” She said there are already laws to check the immigration status of those jailed or imprisoned.
“This bill is not about MS-13,” McClellan said, “although I know that is what gets trotted out all the time as the boogeyman.” She added, “This bill sends a message to certain people: ‘You’re not welcome here.’”