Northam vetoes bills requiring cooperation with federal immigration authorities

Northam vetoes bills requiring cooperation with federal immigration authorities
Virginia State Capitol.

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed two bills requiring cooperation of state and local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities.

Senate Bill 1156 would have prohibited local laws from being passed that restricted officials from working with federal immigration authorities.

The bill was intended to outlaw so-called “sanctuary cities” in Virginia.

In a release, Northam said the bill “imposes an unnecessary and divisive requirement” on local law enforcement because it would “force local law enforcement to use precious resources to perform function that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies.”

The bill passed the House of Delegates 51-47 and passed the Senate 21-19.

Northam’s veto statement said individual localities have the right to choose for themselves whether they enter into an agreement with federal immigration enforcement.

“Police divisions across the Commonwealth have a long tradition of engaging in community policing strategies, and many have determined that it is more important to develop a relationship with immigrant communities in order to keep safe all of those who live within the locality,” the statement said.

Additionally, the release said the bill “sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety … were it to become law, this bill would send a clear message to people across this Commonwealth that state and local law enforcement officials are to be feared rather than trusted and engaged.”

Northam said all people, regardless of their immigration status, should feel comfortable cooperating with police and reporting criminal activity.

A second bill that would have forced Virginia law enforcement agencies to inform federal immigration authorities regarding the release of foreign citizens was also vetoed.

House Bill 2270 had passed the House of Delegates 51-46 and passed the Senate 21-19 and would have required correctional facility officials to inform Immigration and Customs Enforcement of release dates for aliens.

Northam issued a statement saying, “correctional facilities have, and should retain, discretion to determine how they choose to engage with federal immigration agencies.”

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