RICHMOND, Va. (NBC12) – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam vetoed a bill Monday that was designed to prohibit “sanctuary cities” in Virginia.
The bill, which was introduced by Del. Ben Cline (R-24th), would have forced “state and local law enforcement agencies to use resources and manpower to perform functions that should be executed by federal immigration enforcement agencies,” the governor’s office said.
“I veto House Bill 1257, which imposes an unnecessary and divisive requirement upon localities regarding the enforcement of federal immigration laws,” Northam said in a statement.
Virginia does not have any designated sanctuary cities, but signing the bill would “send a clear message to people across this Commonwealth that state and local law enforcement officials are to be feared and avoided rather than trusted and engaged,” Northam said.
He said it’s up to localities to determine whether or not to use resources or enter into an agreement with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
“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 all of those who live within the locality safe,” Northam said. “This legislation would strip localities of that autonomy and force them to divert money and manpower away from their core public safety functions.”
Cline says he his hopeful the General Assembly will override Northam’s veto next week.
“Ensuring that Virginia localities abide by federal immigration laws is a matter of public safety and upholding the rule of law,” Cline said. “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.”