Virginia Can Do Better on Immigration

Opinions & Editorials / July 5, 2019

I’m sure we’ve all seen or read what is happening at our southern border and throughout our nation under the supervision of the Trump administration.

Children permanently separated from their families. People crammed in overcrowded prisons with no beds, soap or medicine.

As the child of immigrants, these events chill me to my core.

At the same time, as someone whose family has dealt extensively with a broken immigration system, I know there are steps we can take to do more than just speak out against these events.

When a federal agency oversteps and abuses, it’s time for states to exercise their discretion.

No one in Virginia should be afraid to contact local law enforcement to report crime or ask for lifesaving help.

We should not, as a commonwealth, allow families to be ripped out of our communities.

It isn’t right morally, and it makes no sense economically. According to the American Immigration Council, one in six workers in Virginia is an immigrant. Plus, immigrants add billions in tax revenue and tens of billions in consumer spending.

We also should think about how Virginia could be more welcoming and safe for immigrant communities.

For example, 13 states and Washington, D.C., have passed laws allowing undocumented immigrants to receive driver’s licenses. Not only does that unlock economic opportunity, but it also boosts road safety and cuts down the number of unlicensed and uninsured drivers.

This is just one of many ways Virginia can do better.

Whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican or an independent, we all can agree that we face a historic choice on immigration. We must choose compassion and common sense over xenophobia.

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