Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Stop Anti-Immigrant Legislation in the General Assembly

State-wide effort underway to stop anti-immigrant legislation in the General Assembly

Virginia United Against Oppression says it aims to stop "all out assault" on undocumented people and workers in the Commonwealth.

A new group called Virginia United Against Oppression has formed a statewide campaign in Virginia to fight racist anti-immigration and anti-worker rights legislation in the General Assembly.  The group has organizers statewide building a campaign against the "massive attack on all people living in Virginia."

You can visit the website for Virginia United Against Oppression at or visit them on Facebook at

Several anti-immigrant bills are expected to move through the short session of the General Assembly over the next two weeks, ostensibly to get them to the floor before public opposition is increased.  A similar process exists for the bills pertaining to workers rights.

Activists and citizens are mobilizing across the state to bring attention to these issues pointing out that:
  • The bills are a full scale attack on undocumented people in Virginia, turning state police and all public employees into immigration enforcement officers, denying services and education to immigrants, and encouraging racial profiling.
  • Along with legislation designed to limit workers abilities to file workers compensation claims, legislators will also be moving to embed Virginia's "right to work" laws in the state constitution, laws that already exist as statute, but harder to repeal if added to the constitution.  In addition, another constitutional change is being proposed adding language that mandates a "secret ballot" when workers try to form unions and leaves the decision of how and when a union forms in the hands of business owners rather than employees.
For a full list of the bills being opposed, or supported, by Virginia United Against Oppression please visit

Virginia United Against Oppression is mobilizing people statewide in a variety of ways and plans on directly lobbying legislators, educating the public, and rallying all Virginians, documented or not, to take a stand against what they say is racist and xenophobic fear mongering made into law.  Organizers point to the widespread outrage expressed over similar legislation last year in Arizona, and plan to beat legislators to the punch in Virginia.

Organizers are encouraging anyone interested in the issues to take action and to contact them for ideas and cooperation.

For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact:

Brandon Collins
(434) 249-3312

Some more reasons to oppose racist legislation in Virginia:
  • Having state police enforce federal immigration laws will be a burden on Virginia taxpayers; all public employees will be "deputized" as immigration officials, detracting from their ability to do their jobs.
  • Public employees should not be forced to turn in people seeking assistance; refusal to do so puts public employees at risk of job loss and loss of conscience.
  • Localities should always be aware and witness immigration enforcement in their communities, eliminating this opens the door to great abuses.
  • Immigrants awaiting deportation are often detained for months, sometimes for a year, in jail cells normally reserved for criminals.  This is a great expense for taxpayers if we add to these numbers while simultaneously creating profits for private prison contractors.  Beyond the tax issue, putting more people in jail for "crimes" that are misdemeanors is a human rights catastrophe.
  • No human being is illegal.  Virginia should welcome immigrants not put them in prison simply for existing.
  • Social services and education for immigrants are not a drain on our society, rather, it makes for a safer society when the needs of all people are met.
  • Further, many undocumented people pay into the tax system but do not file returns, thus paying more into the system than other low income citizens.
  • The nation's eyes will be on Virginia.  We should not pass racist legislation when the rest of the country is appalled by racism.  Virginia's tourism industry could be severely impacted under a boycott such as has been seen in Arizona.
  • Immigration is a federal issue, and should remain a federal issue.  US trade policy is the main driver of migration to the United States.
  • Workers should have a right to decide how and when they form unions.
  • "Secret ballots" on the surface sound fair, however, by not allowing union sign-up or card check, the law puts the control and timing of union organizing into the hands of employers rather than employees, who could still opt for a secret ballot system but by their own decision rather than the employer.
  • Since "card check" isn't allowed anyways, the only reason to put this language into the state constitution is to negate any federal laws on the matter such as the Employee Free Choice Act.
  • Virginia's "right to work" laws are already Virginia statute.  Putting them into the state constitution makes it harder to repeal these laws in the future.
  • Both constitutional issues bolster the stated goal of some state officials in Virginia and around the country to change the US Constitution to allow states to ignore federal laws whenever they want.
  • People deserve to work in a safe environment.  When accidents happen, workers should be able to be compensated for their injuries. The new legislation will shorten the time allowed for workers to file claims, limit what qualifies to receive compensation (including secondary injuries), and makes it harder for employees to defend themselves in the filing process.
There are 3 bills ("Good Bills for Workers") relating to workers rights that can be supported:
  • Workers should not be discriminated against because of sexual orientation or preference, including state workers.
  • Workers compensation should cover all injuries on the job, including brain injury.

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