Monday, February 7, 2011

Charlottesville Passes Resolution Opposing Anti-Immigrant Legislation

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.

To hear the resolution being read out loud in full, visit (at minute 53:00)

For more information on the growing opposition to anti-immigrant legislation in the General Assembly please visit Virginia United Against Oppression.

To schedule an interview, contact:
Brandon Collins
(434) 249-3312


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