On March 19, 2019, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) vetoed Senate Bill 1156, which would have prohibited sanctuary cities.
The term sanctuary jurisdiction refers to a city, county, or state that has enacted policies that limit local officials’ involvement in the enforcement of federal immigration law. The official bill summary described SB 1156 as providing “that no locality shall adopt any ordinance, procedure, or policy intended to restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”
SB 1156 passed along party lines in the House and Senate, with all Republican members voting in favor of the bill. It passed the Senate on January 17, the House on February 19 with amendments, and the Senate again on February 20.
Northam said the bill “imposes an unnecessary and divisive requirement upon localities regarding the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”
Bill sponsor Sen. Dick Black (R-District 13) disagreed, saying Northam mischaracterized the bill. “It just says localities must not adopt policies that interfere with federal enforcement. I think he was struggling to put words down, while encouraging sanctuary cities to pop up in Virginia,” he said.
Northam vetoed a similar measure in 2018.
As of March 2019, no Virginia locality had declared itself a sanctuary jurisdiction.