The Corner

Politics & Policy

Ralph Northam: I Completely Support that Sanctuary City Ban that I Voted Against!

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Ralph Northam: I Completely Support that Sanctuary City Ban that I Voted Against!

Hey, remember earlier this week, when running an ad about MS-13 crime’s in northern Virginia and denouncing sanctuary cities constituted horrible xenophobia? Never mind!

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam said Wednesday that he would sign a bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities if a Virginia locality tries to become one in the future.

Republican nominee Ed Gillespie has pushed the issue of sanctuary cities to the forefront of the governor’s race. The term is loosely defined but generally understood as a locality that will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. No Virginia city or county has tried to adopt policies to impede such cooperation.

Northam, Virginia’s sitting lieutenant governor, has insisted he opposes sanctuary cities while also accusing Gillespie of fabricating the issue for political advantage.

But in an interview Wednesday with the Norfolk TV station WAVY, Northam said for the first time that, under certain circumstances, he would sign a bill similar to the one he voted against this year, a vote that spawned a wave of ominous ads from the Gillespie campaign linking Northam to the Latino gang MS-13.

“If that bill comes to by desk … I sure will. I’ve always been opposed to sanctuary cities. He knows that,” Northam said of Gillespie, whose MS-13-themed ads have been blasted by critics as racially tinged.

For reference, the legislation was one sentence long: “No locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy that restricts the enforcement of federal immigration laws.” Not exactly difficult to interpret!

Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City, orchestrated the move by initially voting with Democrats to create the 20-20 tie requiring Northam’s vote. Norment then changed his vote so the bill could pass. The Gillespie campaign sent out a news release almost immediately, an early sign of the immigration-themed campaign ads to come.

Bash Virginia Republicans for legislative maneuvering if you wish, but legislative leaders schedule and hold votes to get members on the record all the time. If Northam really believes that every Virginia locality should cooperate with federal immigration authorities, what was the harm in that one-sentence bill?

If Northam is so willing to sign this legislation, why did he vote against it? His claim at the time was that it was unnecessary, because no Virginia locality had a law like that. But why would you oppose preventing a bad idea from becoming law? By any chance did it have anything to do with the fact that he was fighting in a Democratic primary, and was attempting to court the Left, including endorsing the state providing driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants?

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