Anti-Immigrant Bills Fall in Virginia Senate

Committee room filled with families and representatives of immigrants’ rights groups

Richmond, VA— Anti-immigrant bills that had passed the Virginia House of Delegates failed to advance in the Senate yesterday when a special subcommittee on immigration of the Senate Courts of Justice Committee killed 10 of the 12 bills it addressed.

Jorge Figueredo, the ACLU of Virginia’s Director of Racial Justice and Immigrants’ Rights, was one of the speakers opposing the anti-immigrant measures. “The Senate sent an important message to all of Virginia,” said Figueredo, “that we do not tolerate laws intended to infringe on the rights of individuals because of their national origin, race or ethnic background.”

The Courts of Justice subcommittee voted against reporting HB 2332, which would require all state and local police to make citizenship status inquiries of every person taken into custody.  This bill was modeled after the controversial Arizona law challenged by the ACLU in federal court last year.  That law was struck down as unconstitutional, but the case is being appealed.

The subcommittee also killed HB 1465 for lack of a motion.  HB 1465, which passed the House of Delegates on an overwhelming 75-24 vote, would have made Virginia the only state in the nation to deny undocumented students the opportunity to enroll at any Virginia public college, even if they are Virginia taxpayers, even if they pay out-of-state rates, and even if the federal DREAM act were to pass.

“While this is a real victory for equality in Virginia, it is also important to remember that the anti-immigrant sentiment is unfortunately alive and well in the House of Delegates, which passed most of these bills by substantial majorities,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “The work to make Virginia a place where people are treated the same regardless of color or national origin is far from over.”

The subcommittee’s decisions were made before a packed room filled with people from across the state to demonstrate their opposition to the anti-immigrant bills.  In addition to numerous individuals and families, also present were representatives from Tenants and Workers, Virginia Employers for Sensible Immigration Policy, Virginia Organizing, Hispanic Community Dialogue, the Catholic Conference, the Arlington County School Board, the Virginia School Boards Association, the Virginia Sheriffs Association, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, the Virginia Justice Center, the Virginia Poverty Law Center and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Advocacy Organizations (VACOLAO).

A listing of the bills on which the Senate subcommittee acted yesterday follows.

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022


Senate Courts of Justice Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration

February 16, 2011

Not Reported

H.B. 1421 Passed-by-indefinitely (PBIed)
Enforcement of federal immigration law by the Commonwealth and its political subdivisions. Provides that no agency of the Commonwealth, political subdivision of the Commonwealth or locality, or an employee of any of them acting in his official capacity, may limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law. Patron: Albo

H.B. 1430 Died for lack of motion
Arresting officer to ascertain citizenship of arrestee. Supplements the existing law that requires sheriffs to make a query into legal presence when a person is “taken into custody” at a jail. This bill expands such inquiries by requiring inquiries of everyone arrested, and requires that an arresting officer inquire of every arrestee whether he (i) was born in a country other than the United States and (ii) is a citizen of a country other than the United States. Patron: Albo
H.B. 1465 Died for lack of motion
Admission of illegal aliens at institutions of higher education. Provides that notwithstanding any existing policies regarding limitations on enrollment eligibility, the boards of visitors of the public, post-secondary institutions of higher education, including the State Board of Community Colleges, shall adopt written policies and procedures prohibiting the enrollment of an individual determined to be not lawfully present in the United States. Patron: Peace
H.B. 1468 PBIed
Legal presence required for public assistance; verification required. Provides that local departments of social services shall verify or cause to be verified information regarding the citizenship or legal presence of an applicant for public assistance prior to initiating provision of benefits, and that the Governor may withhold the appropriation of state funds under his control to any agency, political subdivision of the Commonwealth, or locality in violation of this act. Patron: Albo

H.B. 1727 PBIed
Virginia Fair Employment Act; E-Verify Program. Requires public contractors, employers with 15 or more employees within the Commonwealth, and localities to enroll in the E-Verify Program by December 1, 2011, and to use the Program for each newly hired employee who is to perform work within the Commonwealth. Employers and contractors that fail to do so are subject to suspension or revocation of certain licenses and invalidation of public contracts. Licenses will be reinstated when an employer or contractor enrolls in the Program or, if already enrolled but not using the Program, prepares and implements a compliance plan. Patron: Carrico

H.B. 1775 No motion to report
English as a Second Language; report. Requires local school boards to annually collect data on the number of students enrolled in English as a Second Language courses and report such data to the Board of Education, as well as provide the number of students unable to provide a birth record upon admission to the public schools. The Board of Education must compile all such data and report it, aggregated by school division, to the Governor and the General Assembly. Patron: Gilbert

H.B. 1934 No second on motion to report

Enforcement of immigration laws; agreement with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Provides that the Superintendent of State Police shall seek to enter into a memorandum of agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would allow the State Police to perform certain federal immigration law-enforcement functions in the Commonwealth. Such an agreement is often referred to as an agreement under the federal 287(g) program. Patron: Miller, J.H.

H.B. 1997 Failed to report
Accused released on recognizance; report to Central Criminal Records Exchange. Provides that information necessary to make reports to the Central Criminal Records Exchange required after the arrest of an accused, which must be accompanied by fingerprints, must be collected before an accused may be released upon satisfaction of the terms of recognizance. Patron: Janis

H.B. 2332 PBI
Arresting officer to ascertain citizenship of arrestee. Supplements the existing law that requires sheriffs to make a query into legal presence when a person is “taken into custody” at a jail. This bill expands such inquiries by requiring inquiries of everyone arrested, independent of whether they were taken into custody at a jail, and requires that an arresting officer inquire of every arrestee whether he (i) was born in a country other than the United States and (ii) is a citizen of a country other than the United States. The bill further provides that when a warrantless arrest is made and the law-enforcement officer finds probable cause to believe that the person is not legally present in the United States, he shall communicate to the judicial officer the facts and circumstances underlying his belief. If the judicial officer concurs in the determination of the officer and finds probable cause to believe that the person will not appear for trial or hearing, the judicial officer may refuse to admit the person to bail. Patron: Lingamfelter

H.B. 2333 No second on motion to report
Virginia Public Procurement Act; preference for Virginia firms using E-Verify program. Provides that in the case of a tie bid, preference shall be given to goods or services or construction provided by persons, firms or corporations using the E-Verify program for employees who perform work within the Commonwealth. Under the bill, in the case of a tie bid where none of the bidders use, or all bidders use, the E-verify program, preference shall be given to goods produced in Virginia or goods or services or construction provided by Virginia persons, firms or corporations. Patron: Lingamfelter

Reported

H.B. 1651 Reported out of Committee

Licenses, permits, and special identification cards issued only to U.S. citizens. Requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel any license, permit, or special identification card it has issued to an individual if it is notified by a federal government agency that the individual is not legally present in the United States. Patron: Cosgrove

H.B. 1859 Conformed with HB1859 with SB1049
Virginia Public Procurement Act; preference for business using the E-Verify program. Requires state agencies to include in every contract over $50,000 a provision requiring the contractor to use the E-Verify program for employees who will be performing work under the contract within the Commonwealth. Patron: Anderson

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