Charlottesville City Council passes unanimous resolution opposing long list of anti-immigrant bills in the General Assembly
Charlottesville's regular first Monday City Council meeting saw dozens of people showing up to make sure that a resolution pertaining to statewide immigration legislation would pass.
In the unanimous vote, the Council expressed its "strong opposition" to a long list of bills directed towards undocumented people, stating that "Charlottesville recognizes that all people living or working in Virginia are entitled to respect and inalienable human rights regardless of residency status."
Some of the bills being opposed would deny public services, higher education, use of the Virginia Employment Commission, and driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. Other bills allow Virginia police to act as federal immigration officials, set up a system through the Department of Homeland Security to check residency status, allow police to stop anyone suspected of being here illegally, remove local oversight of federal immigration investigations, put Virginia in charge of detaining and paying for immigrants awaiting deportation, and mandate all parents to verify residency when enrolling children in public schools.
Opponents of the legislation, who now include the Charlottesville City Council, say the legislation is a full on assault on immigrants in their community. They say that denial of public services and education contributes to a less safe and prosperous community, erodes civil liberties, and will cause chaos in the immigrant community. They further note that many of the bills require the Commonwealth and it's localities to pay for doing the job of the Federal Government.
In attendance at the Monday night meeting were many members of the "Southwood Alliance" of immigrants in Charlottesville, one of whom spoke, through an interpreter, about how the proposed legislation would "cause chaos" in her community. Many others in attendance also spoke in favor of the resolution, and no one expressed any opposition. When asked to stand in support of the resolution, the entire room of attendees of the meeting stood up, with only two or three people remaining seated.
One speaker asked the council to actively "engage the public" on this issue, another pointed out that the legislation "legitimizes discrimination." Mayor Dave Norris responded to Maria Jiminez's comments that the legislation is an assault not only on her community, but the entire community. The resolution itself points out that immigrants awaiting deportation are often held in detention for 8 months or more.
The Socialist Party of Central Virginia recognizes the fundamental worth and dignity of each and every human being, and the basic human right associated with the ability to travel unencumbered.
The Socialist Party of Central Virginia also recognizes that each and every person is entitled to the means to earn a decent living through meaningful work, and that this right is contingent upon nothing other than membership in the human community and does not respect limitations based on narrow divisions associated with national citizenship.
The Socialist Party of Central Virginia supports the vision of a United States which opens its arms and its borders to the very individuals whose labor is the fundamental ingredient in the material benefits that we enjoy.
In light of these values that place the value of people over profits, the Socialist Party of Central Virginia calls upon our fellow Virginians and our elected representatives to oppose the following legislation, which, when taken in its totality, amounts to a full frontal assault on some of the valued members of our communities for crass political gain. Instead of focusing on the incredibly low level of corporate income tax in our commonwealth, or the fact that corporations intent on hyper-exploiting overseas laborers have shipped millions of jobs overseas to the detriment of workers in our country, as reasons that our educational system and social services are under-funded, our legislatures have chosen to try to balance the budget on the backs of some of the least powerful persons in our Commonwealth.
In light of these facts, the Socialist Party of Central Virginia opposes the following bills now working their way through the Virginia Assembly:
Senate Bill 789 (Senator Watkins): Would require the Virginia Employment Commission to utilize the federal E-Verify program.
House Bill 1468 (Delegate Albo): Would require individuals to prove citizenship or legal presence in order to receive public assistance; it would also require that any proof provided by an individual is subject to verification.
House Bill 1420 (Delegate Albo): Would allow the Virginia State Police to enter into agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This would have the effect of allowing Virginia State Police to enforce federal immigration laws.
House Bill 1421 (Delegate Albo): Would require that localities follow Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement rules.
House Bill 1482 (Delegate Cleaveland): Would require use of birth certificate in order to receive a driver’s license.
House Bill 1574 (Delegate Garrett): Would require mandatory self-identification; failure to identify oneself to a law-enforcement officer would result in the individual being guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
House Bill 1465 (Delegate Peace): Would require legal presence for admission to institutions of higher education.
House Bill 1775 (Del. Gilbert): Would require parents enrolling students in public school to verify citizenship.
Taken together, these bills, if passed, amount to a wholesale assault on many individuals in our communities. The politicians will, no doubt, attempt to frame the issue as one in which “illegal immigrants” have broken the laws of this country and are therefore not entitled to access to higher education, driver’s licenses, or public services. We must ask ourselves if we seriously believe that this will solve any problems at all? Will these actions, instead, not make everyone in our Commonwealth more at risk, more divided, and less free?
Consider, if police can now require anyone to identify themselves or be guilty of committing a crime, doesn’t this make us less free to resist arbitrary state authority? If individuals are prevented from getting access to the medicine they need, doesn’t that open the door for epidemics to explode in our communities because basic medical services aren’t available? If individuals are prevented from attending higher education, perhaps because their parents may have brought them from another country when they were mere infants, what possible gain can we reap from denying an individual an opportunity to better themselves and give back to the community? If we make state and local law enforcement proxies for the Federal ICE agents, aren’t we just creating a situation whereby communities will become more dangerous since people will fear contact with law enforcement because they might be undocumented? How many crimes will go unsolved because witnesses will refuse to contact the police with information? How many public servants and teachers will become informants? Families will be hard hit by this legislation. Requiring parents to verify citizenship when they enroll their children in school means less children in school; more parents being verified means more broken families. Imagine for a moment what it must be like to be a child who is a citizen having their parents arrested and detained. The basic necessities for life should be met for all people, not just citizens of the US. Our communities remain safe when everyone has access to food, housing, employment, and education.
In sum, the Socialist Party of Central Virginia opposes this proposed legislation and calls upon all Virginians to contact their State Senators and Delegates and encourage them to vote against these bills, which threaten to weaken our communities.
The Socialist Party works to build a world in which everyone will be able to freely move across borders, to visit and to live wherever they choose.
We recognize the central role global capitalism plays in forcing the immigration of people from the less developed to the more industrialized countries, often leading to further economic and social injustice.
We oppose the militarization of the United States/Mexican border, and an increase in the service budget instead of the "military" budget of the INS.
We defend the rights of all immigrants to education, health care, and full civil and legal rights and call for an unconditional amnesty program for all undocumented people. We oppose the imposition of any fees on those receiving amnesty.
We call for an end to the use of "secret evidence" in deportation hearings, a ban on all immigration detentions and military tribunals, and full due process and habeus corpus rights in US courts for all non-citizens on US territory or in US custody.
We demand an end to police raids in areas where immigrants congregate.
We oppose "guest worker" programs. We call for full citizenship rights upon demonstrating residency for six months.
And we insist that human beings can only perform illegal actions, hence, no human being can rightly be deemed illegal simply for existing.