Earlier this weekend, a Virginia Democratic Delegate pointed out to me that the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Immigration had moved forward with 16 bills pertaining to immigration late last week. Here they are, with two of them — HB 1895 (“Illegal immigrants; document verification for employment, penalty for false representation”) and HB 1914 (“E-Verify program; requires Virginia Employment Commission to use”) — being “laid on the table” (e.g., not being considered for now). The rest moved forward, in almost every case on a strict, party-line vote.
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) – who I’m proud to say is my delegate – is on that subcommittee, and he gave me the lowdown on what all these bills are about. According to Del. Hope (bolding added by me for emphasis):
Basically, and with an exception or two, the remaining bills fall into two categories: the E-Verify bills add an undue burden and unfunded mandate on business and the rest of the bills just restate federal immigration law. In other words, the latter really don’t do anything. But what they all have in common is they are message bills. And that message is very simple: If you are an illegal immigrant, we don’t want you in Virginia. Immigrants are to blame for Virginia’s poor economy, high unemployment, overcrowding in schools, and any other problem you can think of. I’m surprised they didn’t blame immigrants for last week’s snow. It’s a ridiculous blame game and just plain wrong.
More of Del. Hope’s analysis is on the “flip,” including a fascinating exchange between him and Del. Dave Albo (R-Abuser Fees), in which Del. Hope got Del. Albo to publicly admit that one of his bills (HB 1421) is directly targeted at Arlington. Lovely, huh? In addition is Del. Hope’s astute – and correct – observation that this is all nothing more than “bumper-sticker politics and throwing redmeat to the Tea Party,” and that “the Senate will have the backbone to kill [the legislation].” I would certainly hope so!
I had an interesting exchange with Del. Albo during the hearing when I got him to publicly admit one of his bills (HB 1421) is directly targeted at Arlington. I told him he was wasting our time, we comply with federal law and always have and always will. Arlington has the lowest unemployment, low crime, and the best schools in the commonwealth so whatever we’re doing is working pretty good.
Albo has an Arizona-type proposal (HB 1420) that would give State Police full immigration enforcement (ICE) authority. The fiscal impact is even because State Police has said they would work within existing resources which means they will have to take time away from their usual duties to add others and we’ll all be less safe. I understand that a similar proposal was introduced in 2007 and Kaine’s Administration scored it with a cost because they wisely would have added new officers to avoid pulling officers from regular duties. I need to get my hands on that cost to demonstrate the real impact to Virginians.
There was some overlap in a few of the bills so they were rolled into each other. But the field is clear for these bills to sail through full Committee and to the floor just before crossover. I just hope the Senate will see this for what it is: bumper-sticker politics and throwing redmeat to the Tea Party; and the Senate will have the backbone to kill each of them.
P.S. The excellent photo is by Clifford’s Photography.