How Should Local and State Law Enforcement Deal With Federal Immigration Laws?

Feb 22, 2017

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Gastanaga asked Governor Terry McAuliffe to veto bills dealing with immigration issues at a news conference earlier today.
Credit Steve Helber / AP

Should local and state law enforcement officials enforce federal immigration laws? That’s a debate that heating up in the final days of the General Assembly session in Richmond this week.

Democratic Governor Terry McAullife says he will not ask State Police to enter into an agreement with federal immigration officials to help deport undocumented immigrants from Virginia. ACLU director Claire Gastanaga says the governor has made the right call, and she’s calling on Virginians to contact their local governments.

“It’s time to take the arguments that we’ve made about 287(g)s to your local police and your local city, county and town boards and discourage them from entering into these agreements.”

Republican Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas says the governor is running a risk. He says the Department of Homeland Security will release the names of people who could have been picked up by federal immigration officials but weren’t. And if that list includes Virginia names.

“The public will know who is responsible for this. Who decided to let this person out of jail for ideological reasons over the public safety needs first.”

For the time being, the only local government that has one of these agreements with federal immigration officials at the Prince William County Jail.