A bill banning sanctuary cities in Virginia is back in the General Assembly after Governor Ralph Northam (D) vetoed similar legislation in April 2018. Not only did the current installment of the measure draw ire from Democrats in the statehouse, it sparked an angry confrontation between advocates of the bill and the Republican state senator who sponsored it.
Senate Bill 1156, patroned by Senator Dick Black (R-Loudoun), would prohibit any locality from adopting any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The measure is identical to last year’s House Bill 1257, which failed to become law.
On Monday, the bill made it out of the Courts of Justice subcommittee with an 8-6 party-line vote.
During the subcommittee hearing, about a dozen immigrants and advocates spoke against the bill before it was passed through to a full Senate vote. According to The Virginian-Pilot, after the hearing, Black was approached by several immigration advocates who angrily confronted him. A Capitol Police officer then escorted the Northern Virginia senator away from the advocates after they began shouting at him.
In 2017, Senator Black also introduced Senate Bill 1262 in an effort to block the creation of sanctuary cities. The bill would have provided that liability for certain injuries and damages caused by an illegal alien was levied fully on sanctuary cities that intentionally restricted enforcement of federal law by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
Sanctuary cities became a contentious topic during last year’s session, leading to then-Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge), the lawmaker who introduced a measure in the House banning them, working to override the governor’s veto. Northam suggested that the legislation was “unnecessary and divisive,” claiming that Virginia localities would have to bare the brunt of enforcing federal immigration laws by holding undocumented immigrants and proving local resources to federal actions.
The slim GOP majority in the House of Delegates accosted Governor Northam for “continuously” changing his position on the issue of sanctuary cities, following his gubernatorial campaign in which he was highly conflicted on the issue.
The 51-48 party-line vote fell well short of the 67 needed to override Northam’s veto.