Governor Ralph Northam vetoed a bill Monday that was set to prohibit the institution of sanctuary cities in Virginia. Northam suggested that the measure 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.
As a contentious issue in last year’s gubernatorial race, Northam once claimed that he would support a ban on sanctuary cities in the Commonwealth. During the 2017 race, Republican rival Ed Gillespie accused him of having a loose policy sanctuary cities that allow the proliferation of transnational gangs like MS-13. Nevertheless, it seems that Northam has voted against what he originally articulated during his campaign.
Introduced by Delegate Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge), House Bill 1257 which was set to prohibit the establishment of sanctuary cities was short and to the point.
The bill read:
“Sanctuary policies prohibited: Provides that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”
Northam released a statement in tandem with his veto of the bill set to ban sanctuary cities. He explained that the measure would “force” local law enforcement officials and agencies to allocate resources to the functions that belong to the federal government and that immigration law is not the responsibility of Virginia localities.
“It also sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety,” he said according to The Washington Post.
Cline said the legislation was only intended to ban localities from interfering in actions carried out by the federal government when it comes to immigration law enforcement. For example, local authorities would be barred from becoming involved in operations carried out by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officials.
“Ensuring that Virginia localities abide by federal immigration laws is a matter of public safety and upholding the rule of law. Governor Northam’s veto of my bill to ban sanctuary cities in Virginia is indefensible. The governor has continuously changed his position on this important issue, but it appears he has once again caved to the extreme left of his party. It is my hope that the General Assembly will override the governor’s veto when we meet next week.”
When the General Assembly reconvenes on April 18 for its veto session, the upper and lower chambers will have the chance to override Northam’s decision. However, considering the bill passed through the General Assembly on a narrow, party-line vote, it is unlikely.