Virginia State Senator Argues that Immigration Bill Uses MS-13 As ‘Boogeyman’

Posted: Mar 01, 2018 2:00 PM

Virginia's House Bill 1257 prohibits the state from adopting sanctuary city policies that allow local officials to avoid working with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, essentially harboring illegal immigrants.

Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan spoke out against the legislation Tuesday because she is convinced it does not help solve "specific problems." What's it really intended to do, she argued, is to discourage non-citizens from reporting crimes for fear of being captured and deported.

HB1257, McClellan said, is not about addressing MS-13 violence, although that is what is being "trotted out all the time as the boogeyman" to scare people into supporting it. 

MS-13 gangs, she said, especially prey on vulnerable communities and other immigrants because they know they will be too afraid to report the crime.

"They prey on their fear," she said. "They’re banking on the fact that their victim will be too afraid to report it to police because they’re afraid when they show up at courthouse, ICE is going to be waiting for them." 

The bill, McClellan said, is essentially telling non-citizens they're "not welcome here." She put the bill in the context of America's racial history. She saw the films Black Panther and Selma over the weekend and it gave her time to "reflect" on how black people used to be afraid to step out in public for fear of what would happen if they used the wrong water fountain or sat in the wrong seat on the bus. She sees similarities to today. After the 2016 election, she recalled seeing Hispanic employees at her kids' school "terrified that ICE was going to come get them."

The ACLU of Virginia was proud of her remarks and shared them on Twitter.