Virginia and Iowa Governors Go Opposite Ways on Anti-Sanctuary Bills
By David Jaroslav | April 12, 2018
April has seen two governors go very different ways on their previous promises to support statewide sanctuary bans: Virginia’s governor broke his, while Iowa’s governor kept hers.
In Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial race, then-Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam — facing a stiff challenge from Ed Gillespie who made immigration enforcement a priority – promised to sign anti-sanctuary legislation if he were elected governor. During the campaign, Northam said he’d “always been opposed to sanctuary cities.” When the Virginia legislature gave him the opportunity to keep his campaign promise by sending him anti-sanctuary bill, HB 1257, he broke his word by vetoing the bill.
The bill, HB 1257 is only one sentence long. It says, “no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”
Unsurprisingly, Northam said that the bill would force “local law enforcement agencies to use precious resources to perform functions that are the responsibility of federal immigration enforcement agencies.” He also called the measure “unnecessary and divisive” and claimed it sends “a chilling message to communities across Virginia that could have negative impacts on public safety.” A new analysis by FAIR shows “there is no discernable difference in the way immigrants report crimes or provide information in jurisdictions that maintain sanctuary policies and those that do not.”
The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Ben Cline, couldn’t have been clearer in his response to the veto: “The governor has continuously changed his position on this important issue, but it appears he has once again caved to the extreme left of his party. It is my hope that the General Assembly will override the governor’s veto when we meet next week.”
Both chambers may try to override the veto, but are unlikely to succeed. A veto override in Virginia requires a 2/3 vote of both chambers, and while Republicans control both the House and the Senate, they do so by only razor-thin majorities, 51-49 in the House of Delegates and 21-19 in the Senate.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who took the reins from Terry Branstad last May, evidently takes her promises to ban sanctuary policies more seriously. On April 10th, she signed Iowa’s anti-sanctuary into law.
Reynolds never wavered or made her opposition to sanctuary policies a secret: rather, she repeatedly indicated her support for banning them statewide. Given that the bill often met with considerable opposition, her public support may well have contributed to its momentum and ultimate passage.
While the Senate passed Senate File (SF) 481 quickly, it languished in the House for a year. Unlike the 2017 legislative session, SF 481 steadily progressed through the House in 2018.
The bill goes into effect in July, and requires every state and local law enforcement agency to have a written policy in place for complying with the new law by January 1, 2019.