HB1257 Is An Attack Against Virginia’s Immigrant Community

Richmond— Immigrant justice advocates are disgusted at the Virginia House of Delegates’ approval of HB1257, a bill from Delegate Benjamin Cline that prohibits localities from enacting sanctuary policies. Since Virginia already has laws that forbid sanctuary policies, community members and organizations are speaking out against HB1257 because it attacks immigrant and refugee communities. The Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights (VACIR) strongly condemns the measure.

Approved by a 51-49 party-line vote, HB1257 is an affront to hardworking Virginians who deserve to live in safe communities without fear of deportation and having their families ripped apart. Virginia’s immigrants are part of the fabric of the state and deserve to be treated with respect and fairness. Our state is at its best when we are inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of their status.

“This anti-sanctuary law will only criminalize our communities and our youth. Communication between police officers and immigrant community members will worsen, thereby decreasing the reporting of crimes and adding to a general sense of unsafety and fear in our communities,” said Diego Orbegoso of the NLIRH Virginia Latina Advocacy Network, a VACIR member organization.

“When will Virginia understand its responsibility to welcome all people and to avoid partitioning itself one citizen from another? All lives are worthy and important. HB1257 teaches people to disrespect and hate each other,” said Jeanne Pupke from the Central Virginia Sanctuary Network.

HB1257 failed on a 50-50 vote at the beginning of the day when Delegate Gordon Helsel, a Republican voted against the measure. Helsel later reconsidered and changed his vote in support of HB1257. Similar legislation was passed last year by both the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, but was vetoed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.  HB1257 is now moving onto the state senate for a vote. VACIR is calling on Virginians to contact their state senators to vote against HB1257.