Friday, December 4, 2020

Virginia Legislature Passes Anti-Immigration Bills

The Virginia House of Delegates signed off on several anti-immigration bills on Tuesday, including an Arizona style measure that would require all state and local police officers to inquire of the immigration status of any persons they arrest, sparking sharp criticism from local immigrant rights groups.

Republican Del. Scott Lingamfelter of Prince William said, “My thoughts are I regret that this is what it’s come to. I regret that the federal government has been so derelict in their duty that they have not enforced the laws of our land.” Lingamfelter sponsored the most controversial measure based on Prince William County’s policy.

Among the questionable bills the Republican-ruled House passed this week is a measure that would require colleges and universities to accept written policies excluding undocumented immigrants from enrollment, and force schools to record the numbers of enrolled immigrant children. 

Another bill requiring state contractors to use E-Verify when conducting employee background checks was unanimously adopted by the Democratic-led Senate and is likely headed to the governor’s desk for approval.

The advocacy group, Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO), cautioned Tuesday that the Lingamfelter sponsored bill goes farther than Arizona’s controversial law allowing police greater latitude to detain undocumented immigrants.

Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, a VACALAO lobbyist, exclaimed, “It’s worse in one respect because it’s entirely subjective.” She said unlike a similar bill sponsored by Del. David Albo of Springfield, Lingamfelter’s amended bill does not spell out whether law enforcement personnel must consult a database to conclude that the person is not lawfully present in the U.S. Instead, the Lingamfelter bill only requires law enforcement officials to inquire about a person’s status.

Lingamfelter responded with strong disapproval calling it “nonsense” and accused opponents of trying to create a backlash similar the one over the Arizona law.

“It’s a liberal talking point to get steam behind their point of view,” Lingamfelter said. “All this does is take what Prince William has validated and legally vetted and put into law.”

According to Lingamfelter, police are directed to inquire of a person’s immigration status only after they have found probable cause to make a lawful arrest, an existing policy, Lingamfelter said Prince William has been following since adopting its own policy to fight immigration.

The Washington Post

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