WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump isn’t the only one cracking down on sanctuary cities. Republicans in Virginia are trying to discourage cities from protecting illegal immigrants.
If passed by the full legislature, a bill approved this week in a state senate committee would allow anyone in a sanctuary city who is the victim of a crime perpetrated by an illegal immigrant to sue the city for damages. It applies to car accidents, burglaries, robberies and rapes.
Sen. Dick Black, who proposed the bill, said people who are victims of crimes committed by illegal immigrants have nobody to sue for damages because many illegal immigrants don’t have assets.
“However, if you’re talking about a locality that has been complicit in letting this person use their locality as a sanctuary, then you are going to have deep pockets, and the locality is going to have to pay the price,” Black said.
Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who opposes the law believes the bill could hold counties responsible for any injuries that people incur if they involve illegal immigrants. This could be a real hardship for counties already struggling to keep up with expenses.
Black said the bill discourages municipalities from acting as sanctuary cities, something he says is against the law in Virginia.
“My objective is not to hurt localities. My objective is to make sure they comply with the law,” Black said.
McClellan doesn’t believe localities are violating state law by not enforcing federal immigration law and believes the law was proposed as part of a nation-wide anti-immigrant movement.
“Our local governments don’t have the capacity to enforce federal law. That’s not their job,” McClellan said.
She’s also concerned that the bill is written so vaguely that many cities would qualify as sanctuary cities.
Black said a city only becomes a sanctuary city if it adopts an ordinance or policy that intentionally restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.
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