I want to believe that our commonwealth and our fair city of Harisonburg are still friendly and welcoming places. But to immigrants, I'm afraid, not so much.
At last night’s Virginia Organizers meeting on immigration legislation, Walter Tejada, a member of the Arlington County Board of Supervisors, reminded us that in difficult economic times, recent immigrants, documented and otherwise, often become the focus of undue suspicion and hostility.
It’s one thing to support and enforce existing immigration laws, of which we already have more than sufficient. But it’s another to create a plethora of new ones that could make Virginia the most restrictive and punitive state in the Union in the way it deals with newly arrived workers and their families.
The effects of such bills as HB 1421, HB 1430 and HB 1934 would be to strain already limited law enforcement resources and to further discourage members of immigrant communities from reporting crimes and cooperating with law enforcement. Education bills like HB 1465, HB 1775 and HB 2332 would do things like deny some members of our community access to higher education and add to the burden of educational institutions having to investigate the legal status of all immigrants.
In the Biblical spirit of “welcoming the alien and stranger” I hope we can find a way to reform our laws to accommodate a reasonable number of workers that our economy has come to depend on (along the lines earlier considered by George W. Bush and John McCain) and for all of us to “do justice, show mercy and walk humbly” toward God and our immigrant neighbors.
This would be a good time to contact Senator Mark Obenshain (804-698-7526), a decent man and unapologetically pro-life and pro-family, to express your concerns.