By John Vinson, May 12, 2020
Lots of Virginians are blue because our state has turned blue. The home of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison is forsaking its conservative and constitutional heritage to embrace the trendy tyranny of “progressive” politics. And what caused this momentous shift? A leading reason is immigration. Thirty-years ago when Virginia was solidly red, the foreign-born population was five percent. Today it exceeds 12 percent. Immigrants vote Democrat by a margin of two to one. Their voting can often be enough to tip the scales to the left.
Carrying the banner of this change is the administration of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat. One of his priorities is making Virginia a pleasant environment for illegal aliens. Affirming his support for their lawless lifestyle, Northam stated “I’ll work side by side with our attorney general to make sure that ICE is not overstepping their bounds, so that people, especially immigrants, in Virginia aren’t living in fear. Something that we are very proud of in Virginia is that we are inclusive. Our lights are on; our doors are open. We will stand up against ICE. We will do everything we can to make sure immigrants are comfortable living here.”
Notice the weasel wording here. He doesn’t want Immigration and Customs Enforcement to “overstep its bounds” — implying that he only wants ICE to act within its legal boundaries. But then he indicates that ICE is out of bounds if it causes illegal aliens to live in fear. Question: How can law enforcement have any significance if law breakers don’t fear it?
Northam supports sanctuary policies in cities and counties which help to protect illegal aliens from ICE. When he was lieutenant governor, the state Senate had a tie vote on the following legislation: “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” Northam broke the tie by voting against it.
He also favors driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. This year the General Assembly passed legislation to create “Driver Privilege Card” which they can use. The legislation stated, however, that the card would not be “valid ID for voting or public benefits purposes.” Northam recommended removal of this language from the bill. He further signed legislation to end photo IDs for voting. Perhaps this will encourage some illegal aliens to vote. Perhaps that was the intention.
The governor and his administration revealed a far different attitude toward the rule of law when it moved on another issue to advance its “progressive” agenda: gun control. Northam and his fellow Democrats in the Assembly proposed a number of draconian measures, including a ban on so-called “assault rifles.” These proposals ignited a firestorm of opposition throughout the state.
One after another, counties began declaring themselves “second amendment” sanctuaries. In these counties authorities may opt not to uphold state laws they deem in conflict with the right to “keep and bear arms” guaranteed in both the U.S. and Virginia Constitutions. Eventually almost all counties in the state were onboard.
Northam and crew were outraged. The state Attorney General Mark Herring declared that these sanctuaries had “no legal force.” This is the same Mark Herring who feels comfortable with illegal alien sanctuaries. Gov. Northam warned that there would be “consequences” for those who defied his gun laws. His gun control proposals passed this year, except for outlawing “assault rifles.” The Assembly, most probably, will consider that proposal again next year.
Thus we live in a Virginia where citizens must obey laws (even questionable ones), but noncitizens have a pass to ignore them. We citizens, in this arrangement, are truly second class. If Washington, Jefferson, and Madison could come back from the grave, the sad state of their state today would truly make them weep.
John Vinson is President of the American Immigration Control Foundation.