Gov. Northam

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday rejected two Republican-backed immigration bills that would have banned “sanctuary city" policies and required local law enforcement agencies to notify federal immigration officials of undocumented immigrants in their custody.

“The safety of our communities requires that all people, whether they are documented or not, feel comfortable, supported and protected by our public safety agencies,” Northam said in a written statement, explaining his veto of the “sanctuary cities” legislation introduced by retiring Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudon.

That bill would ban Virginia localities from adopting policies to become a “sanctuary city.” The term is loosely defined but generally understood as a locality that will not cooperate with federal immigration authorities. No Virginia city or county has tried to adopt policies to impede such cooperation.

Northam also vetoed a measure introduced by Del. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin, that would require officials in charge of a local correctional facility or a regional jail to notify the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the scheduled release date for any undocumented immigrant in their custody.

“Local and regional correctional facilities have, and should retain, discretion to determine how they choose to engage with federal immigration agencies,” Northam said in a written statement to explain his veto of that bill.

Republicans would need a two-thirds vote in both chambers to override Northam’s veto. Republicans have a 51-49 edge in the House and a 21-19 edge in the Senate.

The legislature returns April 3 to take up the governor's vetoes and proposed amendments.

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