Republican Glenn Youngkin won last Tuesday’s gubernatorial race in Virginia, defeating former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe. The GOP has also retaken the Virginia House of Delegates, although the Democrats will continue to hold a slim edge in the state senate (which is not up for reelection until November 2023).
The Youngkin victory, as well as numerous Republican wins throughout the country (and by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s extremely thin edge in otherwise blue New Jersey, especially compared to 2017) undoubtedly reflects voter frustration with President Joe Biden in particular, and the Democrats in general – on everything from immigration and the border crisis to Afghanistan, COVID-19, the economy, and divisive, anti-American curricula being pushed in public education.
Although immigration was not a major topic of debate during the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race – in many ways being eclipsed by issues such as parental rights in education or COVID-19 vaccine mandates – it nevertheless remains a key issue for voters.
Here are four things that Governor-elect Youngkin – once he is sworn in as governor in January – should do to arrest and reverse the Old Dominion’s leftward lunge towards anti-immigration-enforcement, pro-mass-migration radicalism under Democrat rule:
Crack down on sanctuary jurisdictions. Although Virginia as a whole is, luckily, not a sanctuary state, some of its most left-leaning cities and counties do follow these lawless and reckless policies which prefer to release illegal alien criminals back onto the streets rather than cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Such jurisdictions include Richmond, Charlottesville, Alexandria, and Fairfax and Arlington Counties. The growth of the brutal MS-13 gang – which consists largely of illegal alien Central American youths – in the suburban areas surrounding Washington, D.C., shows that sanctuary policies are not just an issue of immigration enforcement (or, rather, lack thereof) but also an important public safety problem. Given his commitment to law and order, Mr. Youngkin needs to push back against sanctuary lawlessness.
Repeal in-state tuition and financial aid to illegal aliens. Upon taking the two houses of the Virginia legislature, the Democrats and outgoing governor Ralph Northam seized the opportunity to push through in-state tuition and state financial aid eligibility for illegal aliens. Jason Miyares – then a delegate, and now the incoming Attorney General (and first Latino to ever hold that position in the Commonwealth) – is on record for opposing the pro-illegal-alien statute, stating that “the children of those paying the taxes that are subsidizing these colleges, they should be the first in line … I can’t imagine a child being denied a chance to go to their dream school because of the legislation.” Miyares was exactly right. Hopefully, the Youngkin administration will fight to repeal these bad laws.
Cancel driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. Giving driver’s licenses to unauthorized foreign nationals was another part of the Democratic pro-illegal-alien legislative offensive under Gov. Northam. The problem isn’t just that this foolhardy policy goes directly against the spirit of federal immigration law by making it easier for people who have no right to be in the United States to continue residing and working here unlawfully. There are also serious public safety concerns. As one FAIR blog indicated, “[c]riminal aliens can garner a form of identification under a false identity to shield themselves from authorities and possibly commit further crimes. Additionally, such measures potentially open avenues for foreign nationals from terror-prone countries to use driver’s licenses to enter airports or federal buildings and commit acts of terrorism.” This is yet another case of anti-immigration-enforcement insanity that must be rolled back.
Give Virginia communities a say on refugee resettlement. Back in late November 2019, Ralph Northam volunteered to have Virginia take in more refugees, thereby voicing his opposition to President Trump’s executive order, which stated that the federal government would not resettle refugees in places in which either the state or local governments objected. The EO was a rejection of the Obama policy of riding roughshod over the objections of governors and local governments to mass refugee resettlement during the 2015-2016 Syrian crisis. Given the Biden administration’s plan to resettle tens of thousands of Afghan refugees and evacuees throughout the country – coupled with vetting issues and criminal behavior (see here and here) by some of the new arrivals – the new governor needs to be sober and prudent about the potential dangers and should stand up for the rights of Virginians to object to what is by all accounts a rushed and ham-handed process. At the end of the day, it is ordinary citizens – not virtue-signaling politicians – who pay the price of refugees/evacuees gone rogue.
Virginia, like every other state, is paying the price for the reckless and unpopular immigration policies of the Biden administration. That is why good leadership at the state level is so important. And Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin will have an opportunity, starting in January, to put his state on a sane path when it comes to immigration.