Virtue signaling: The last refuge of Virginia’s Governor Northam

Buoyed by his party’s recent state election victory, Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam decided to thumb his nose at President Trump by volunteering to take in more refugees. The move echoes the actions of former Massachusetts governor (and recent Democratic presidential candidate) Deval Patrick.

Governor Northam was responding to President Trump’s Executive Order 13888. Interestingly, the presidential order was dated September 26, but Northam waited two months (until November 25) to respond and roll out the welcome mat for more refugees. Could this have had anything to do with Virginia’s state election, which took place on November 5?

EO 13888 stated that the federal government will not resettle refugees in jurisdictions in which either the state or local governments have objected to new refugee resettlement under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program (RPP).

This is a welcome departure from President Obama’s policy of ignoring the objections of state governors and local communities to the influx of new refugees. Respecting the views of various states and localities is also consistent with the spirit of American federalism.

In his letter, Northam stated that his purpose was to “reaffirm Virginia’s position that we welcome refugee resettlement in the Commonwealth,” and then proceeded to lecture Secretary of State Michael Pompeo about the shortcomings of U.S. refugee policy – despite the fact that neither Northam, nor any other state governor, plays any role in determining how many refugees the U.S. will accept and what countries they should come from.

The Virginia governor also bemoaned President Trump’s actions to increasingly scale down – due primarily to national security and terrorism concerns – the numbers of refugees resettled in the U.S. in general, and Virginia in particular. However, he emphasized that “we have the capacity to accept and help more refugees than we currently have.”

Whether Virginia has more “capacity” to take in more refugees is debatable. In fact, the Commonwealth resettled essentially the same number of refugees as a percentage of its population as more populous states like California and Texas – .002 percent.

Northam also stated that “because of our proximity to Washington, D.C., we are a preferred location” for many refugees. However, that proximity to the nation’s capital also creates security concerns – something which the governor failed to discuss.

Moreover, why are the preferences of refugees – who are receiving both the benefits of a new life in a safe, secure democracy and thousands of dollars of taxpayer assistance – more important than the needs of Americans? After all, suburban Northern Virginia is already facing many of the problems associated with urban/suburban sprawl, including: a high cost of living, high rents, heavy traffic, and overcrowded public schools.

Why not fix those problems first, before volunteering to take on the additional costs of resettling more refugees in the commonwealth? Perhaps because, as Michelle Malkin demonstrates in her latest book, Open Borders Inc., refugee resettlement is big business and many participating volunteer organizations (VOLAGs) stand to rake in a lot of taxpayer money. That is one major reason why the “refugees welcome” crowd prefers to resettle refugees in Western nations rather than to help them in neighboring countries, despite the fact that the latter option is much more cost-effective and can help approximately ten times as many people.

Cynics would probably suggest that Governor Northam is attempting to rebuild his reputation – which was tarnished earlier this year when a page from his 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced, showing a man in “black face” accompanied by another man wearing a KKK hood and robe. In any case, his letter to Secretary Pompeo is a prime example of “virtue signaling” by taking “cheap shots” at the Trump administration.

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