(With just SIX DAYS left until the general election, now is the time to give everything you’ve got, to leave it all on the field. To help keep you motivated and focused, we’re running a quick series we’re calling “What’s At Stake Nov. 5th” highlighting a handful of reasons this election is so critically important to Virginians.)
January 23, 2019: Senators Scott Surovell (D-36) and Jennifer Boysko (D-33) address the Senate Transportation Committee, describing the economic and social benefits of creating a new driver’s privilege card that would allow undocumented immigrants to legally drive in Virginia. They listed numerous benefits, to the lives of the over 250,000 estimated immigrants who would apply for such a card, as well as to public safety (since legal drivers will have insurance and pass driver’s tests) and to the budget of Virginia (the driver’s privilege card would only be available to those who are paying income tax in Virginia). A long line of supporters stood up to address the committee, immigrant mothers and fathers who need to be able to pick up their children from school and take them to after-school activities or to drive their children or elderly parents to doctors, people needing to get to their jobs, union leaders, and faith organizations. Not one single person testified in opposition. The bill died on a party-line vote, with no explanation whatsoever. A room full of people who travelled from as far away as Norfolk to participate in the supposedly democratic process heard no justification for the bill failing.
This is a bill that hurts no one, and will benefit 250,000 people living in Virginia. So what’s the reason we can’t pass it? It’s because no matter what the Virginia GOP wants you to believe, they do NOT believe in a Virginia that is welcoming to all. Instead, while they kill good bills like this, they push forward year after year their own dog whistle sanctuary city legislation that “prevents localities from enacting laws that restrict enforcement of federal immigration laws.” Which anyone can tell you localities are already prevented from doing. A county cannot decide to restrict enforcement of federal laws—duh! What a locality CAN do, and all but two localities in Virginia (and all but 89 localities nationally) DO choose to do, is not to go out of their way at the expense of local taxpayers to HELP enforce federal law. This bill is nothing but an ugly way to “stoke fear of other and division,” as Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-49) said. It’s a way to tell the immigrant community that they aren’t welcome in Virginia.
If you had any doubt about what those Republicans’ votes on these bills meant, that should have been completely resolved now by the disgusting racist and xenophobic campaign mailers that so many of them are using, with stock photos of tattooed Black and Brown people—because according to the leader of their party, President Trump, people from those “$hithole countries” are “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” This is not how to create a welcoming place. I don’t know about you, but I would never make my home in a place that wasn’t welcoming to immigrants. I would never vote for anyone who contributed to divisiveness and otherizing and didn’t respect and value diversity and inclusion. In fact, I would knock doors and make calls and work as hard as I could to replace their message of hatred and exclusion by voting them out Nov. 5th. How about you? Can you help this last six days?