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April 1, 2016 Published in From Richmond, Top Stories

Governor McAuliffe Vetoes Legislation Usurping Local Authority On Immigration Matters

VA SealGovernor Terry McAuliffe today vetoed House Bill 481 and Senate Bill 270, which attempt to prohibit the release of individuals in the custody of state or local law enforcement if those individuals are suspected of violating U.S. immigration laws.

The Governor’s full veto statement is below. He has assigned the same statement for both pieces of legislation:

March 31, 2016

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 481, which attempts to prohibit the release of certain persons held by state or local officials who are suspected of violating U.S. immigration laws.

Virginia law already leaves it to the discretion of state and local law enforcement officials how to respond to lawful detainer orders received by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  This bill does nothing other than subject non-citizens in legal disputes with federal immigration officials to inequitable treatment.  The debate surrounding this bill confirms that it is intended to communicate a sense that non-citizens are to be feared and should be treated as more dangerous than other persons.

Rather than stoking irrational fears of non-citizens present in the Commonwealth, the General Assembly should be focused on substantive policies to improve public safety in Virginia.  House Bill 481 makes no one safer and inappropriately stigmatizes many of those who are caught up in a broken immigration system.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

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