Sanctuary Cities Ban Vetoed by Virginia Governor

April 10, 2018

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, D, vetoed a bill Monday that would have prohibited the establishment of sanctuary cities, an issue that dominated his race for governor last year.

The bill was a single sentence: "No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws."

Northam suggested the legislation would require Virginia cities and towns to shoulder the burden of enforcing federal immigration law, either by deputizing local police or by holding undocumented inmates in local lockups. He called the measure "unnecessary and divisive."

"This legislation would force local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies," Northam wrote in a statement accompanying the veto. "It also sends a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety."

Del. Ben Cline, R-Rockbridge, who sponsored the bill, said the measure was intended only to ban localities from interfering federal immigration actions, not press them into service.