Delegate Rich Anderson’s HB 1060 is going to be heard in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee tomorrow and we will see once and for all whether the Republican Party stands for the rule of law, or wants to ensure that unscrupulous employers (many of whom are large campaign contributors) can continue to unlawfully employ illegal aliens in Virginia. Republicans in the Senate of Virginia, being the epitome of the Republican establishment, are going to go on record tomorrow and prove what they really stand for.
HB 1060 requires law enforcement to ascertain the legal status of all persons arrested, whether they are held in jail or released with a summons. This practice has been in place in Prince William County since 2008 and resulted in about 4,000 illegal aliens being turned over to federal authorities for deportation, significant improvements in roadway safety, and strongly discouraged illegal aliens from residing in the county. A lawsuit by illegal alien supporters was filed to overturn this policy and was dismissed before trial making this one of the few anti-illegal immigration measures that weren’t in any way stopped by a court.
Senator Dick Black introduced a companion measure to this bill in the Senate which came before the Senate Courts of Justice Committee on January 30th. SB 460 was defeated on a 7-7 tie with Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment actually abstaining on this bill, which caused it to fail. Norment has been quite unhelpful in the past, so his vote in support of illegal aliens, as disappointing as it was, wasn’t entirely unexpected. Now Norment and the rest of the Committee have a chance to take this up again, and we will see what they actually stand for — protecting illegal aliens from having their identities positively determined at arrest, or protecting public safety and the rule of law in Virginia.
Liberal wingnuts like the Virginia New Majority and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations are mounting a push to flood the inboxes of Senators with cries that this law would result in “racial profiling” and “negatively impact immigrant communities.” I strongly doubt Republicans in the Senate are going to swallow much of those tired and long-ago disproven “Chicken Little” stories, but what Senators will do is listen to large agribusiness, builders, and other business interests complain that the law would make it harder for unethical employers in these industries to flout labor laws and hire illegal aliens instead of American workers, keep wages low, and maintain relatively high unemployment which drives down wages and benefits. “Senator Norment, if you make it harder for us to hire illegals, we might not be able to afford that campaign contribution next time around.”
So I’ll be fascinated to see what Republicans on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee do tomorrow. They’re about as good a proxy for establishment Republicans like Mitt Romney, Bill Bolling and Bob McDonnell (who hasn’t a single bill on illegal immigration in his legislative priorities list this year) as you’re ever likely to get. If they stand with unemployed American workers to help them get jobs, ensure the rule of law, and actually do something to reduce illegal immigration in Virginia, perhaps there’s some intent to actually back up some of the conservative-sounding rhetoric they’ve been using with action. I’d welcome that. I’d really like to see establishment Republicans stop their practice of using conservatives to win elections only to abandon them when they govern.
I think it’s more likely, especially given Norment’s awful history on Senate Courts, that they’re going to sell out Virginians this year and demonstrate that establishment Republicans are only marginally better than liberal Democrats and that supporting them in any way is utterly a waste of your time and treasure. Use what happens tomorrow to guide your actions the rest of this election cycle, dispensing with promises and relying instead on history.
UPDATE: The bill was killed in Senate Courts February 22nd with Tommy Norment supporting the illegal aliens. Surprise! That’s how much you can trust your establishment Republican types.
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