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The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Political Director at America’s Voice, in response to Governor Ralph Northam’s veto of House Bill 1257, a politically-motivated bill seeking to criminalize communities who refuse to collude with the Trump Administration’s anti-immigrant political agenda.
“Governor Ralph Northam’s veto of a Republican anti-immigrant legislation, House Bill 1257, shows why elections matter and how leaders should stand up to the ongoing political attacks attempting to stoke fear over immigrants. Gov. Northam reaffirmed his commitment to the people of Virginia by vetoing the bill, recognizing that it’s a political issue masquerading as a policy debate.
The Virginia 2017 elections and this latest Republican legislative push on this issue are based on the politics of fear and divisiveness, not the real issues facing residents of Virginia. But as Ed Gillespie’s campaign discovered last November, Virginia voters aren’t distracted by the politics of fear and scapegoating – in fact, the attacks backfired last November, both energizing progressives and voters of color and driving suburban white voters away from the intolerance coming out of the Republican campaign. Our Election Eve poll of 1,600 Virginia votersdemonstrated that Gillespie’s over-reliance on anti-immigrant race-baiting failed. Voters across all demographics were very aware the campaign had become heavily racialized and this moved them away from Gillespie and towards Northam.
Unfortunately, Virginia Republicans’ ongoing attempts to scapegoat immigrants are a preview of what we expect from many Republicans in 2018, as they follow the lead of President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Stephen Miller. Taking their cues from the ongoing White House anti-immigrant obsession, we expect a barrage of ugly, anti-immigrant ads in campaigns across the country. But instead of taking the bait, getting distracted, or overreacting, Democrats should follow Governor Northam’s example by rejecting these transparently political and divisive legislative pushes. Instead, they should remain focused on the real issues facing voters, emphasize support for real measures to keep communities safe, and stand up confidently for our values like E pluribus Unum.
During the 2017 election cycle, groups like CASA in Action in partnership with allies like Next Gen America knocked on over 58,000 doors and made over 74,000 phone calls and texts telling their friends and neighbors to turn out to vote against candidates like Ed Gillespie who resorted to race-baiting and fear mongering. The vetoing of House bill 1257 is a victory for groups like CASA in Action and the vast majority of Virginia voters who rejected Ed Gillespie’s xenophobic and racist campaign tactics.
For more information on how the GOP’s anti-immigrant attacks aren’t working – and in some cases backfiring, be sure to check our new political memo from America’s Voice and more information and analysis on our 2017 election eve poll of Virginia voters.