McDonnell Talks Immigration

If you happened to be near a television this week, chances are you saw Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) or state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R).

They’ve been making the rounds, talking up Virginia’s health care challenge, its newly-explained immigration policy and the governor’s plan to privatize liquor stores here.

I stopped McDonnell in the hallway after one of his cable interviews, to ask him about the immigration issue.

The governor said he wants the U.S. Department of Justice to give Virginia state troopers the authority to enforce immigration laws much like agents for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“All we want to do is to make sure that, first and foremost, that people who are here illegally and committing crimes against other Virginia citizens or other immigrants, that those people are properly prosecuted, detained and deported,” McDonnell said.

He told me that he supports Cuccinelli’s opinion that Virginia police officers are allowed to ask about a person’s immigration status.

But, McDonnell said, the Commonwealth’s law is different from the controversial measure in Arizona, which required officers to ask about a person’s immigration status.

“There is a difference in the law,” McDonnell told me. “We have a little bit of a different legal position.”

This week, the Virginia chapter of the ACLU sent a letter to every police chief in the state, urging them to ignore Cuccinelli’s opinion and to avoid asking about immigration status.

That letter is here.

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