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​General Assembly passes anti-sanctuary cities bill

McAuliffe expected to veto legislation

<p>The Senate approved HB 2000 by a vote of 21 to 19 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 65 to 34.</p>

The Senate approved HB 2000 by a vote of 21 to 19 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 65 to 34.

The General Assembly passed a bill Feb. 23 that would prohibit the establishment of sanctuary cities in Virginia. The debate surrounding the bill is part of a larger national discussion on immigration reform.

In sanctuary cities, locality governments limit the extent to which they aid in the enforcement of federal immigration policies.

The anti-sanctuary cities bill — HB 2000 — would prohibit localities from making provisions to impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The Senate approved the bill by a vote of 21 to 19 and the House of Delegates by a vote of 65 to 34. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has said will veto the bill.

Del. Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), who voted in favor of the bill, said the bill is geared toward the same individuals wanted under the Secure Communities program of the Obama administration. Under this program, the federal government decided whether detained individuals illegally in the country should be removed.

“The Trump administration has adopted the policies of Secure Communities. I don't recall the governor objecting to that,” Marshall said during the floor debates Feb. 22. “There is nothing wrong with this bill.”

Marshall introduced a separate bill — HB 1468 — passed by the General Assembly earlier in February that requires local law enforcement officials to comply with detainer orders from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“My bill will help protect all Virginians because allowing individuals back into society who are charged with serious offenses disrespects the victims who been have harmed by persons who are in the U.S. illegally,” Marshall said in an email statement.

Marshall stated he hopes to restore what he calls the original concept of a sanctuary city, which differs from its modern notion.

“Historically, deportation from the country was an essential part of ‘sanctuary,’ and permanently avoiding justice for serious wrongdoing or the punishments required for such acts was not included in real sanctuary situations,” Marshall said.

Marshall also made clear his opposition to “street sweeps” and “warrantless detentions,” the violent tactics sometimes associated with anti-sanctuary city advocates.

Some members voted against HB 2000 because of the message it may send to immigrants.

“The ugly message that this bill sends to immigrants is that they are not welcome here in Virginia,” Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “We can and should be doing more to welcome those who are just trying to build a better life for themselves and their families.”

The legislation does not account for the complexity of federal immigration laws, Lopez said.

“This bill ignores the complicated nature of federal immigration law and could require localities to choose between complying with an ICE detainer or unlawfully detaining someone past their release date in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” Lopez said.

According to Lopez, the bill would do nothing to protect communities and would only serve to isolate the immigrant community from local governments.

“In effect, this legislation makes our communities less safe by stoking irrational fears of immigrants and undermining the community-police relations that are essential for true public safety,” Lopez said.

Paola Sanchez Valdez, a third-year Curry student and President of DREAMers on Grounds, said she believes the General Assembly’s passage of the bill contributes to a broader discussion of national immigration.

“HB 2000 may just be a statewide bill, but it’s actually contributing to a national immigrant sentiment that the federal government is trying to send out in which it is saying immigrants are bad people, they’re criminals and citizens need to be protected from immigrants, when in reality, immigrants are just hard working people,” Sanchez Valdez said.

McAuliffe has yet to formally make a decision on HB 2000 and HB 1468.