Mayor Levar Stoney Takes
Aim at Anti-Immigration Policies
Mayor Levar Stoney, a man of deeply held principles and an enduring love of the United States Constitution, reaffirmed his commitment to our immigrant population by signing a mayoral directive that orders city leadership to “protect and promote policies of inclusion for all of its residents, regardless of their national origin, immigration or refugee status, race, color, creed, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or sexual identity.”
He also assured city residents that Richmond Police would not inquire about immigration status during encounters in the community.
“America is a nation of immigrants,” the mayor said. “It is what this country was built on, and why so many people want to come here and make this their home.”
He also took aim at the president, and some members of the Virginia General Assembly.
“Actions such as those taken by the 45th president, through executive orders and actions, like those embedded in several [anti-sanctuary city] bills currently before our General Assembly, whether it’s HB2000 or SB1262, do nothing to strengthen our community’s security,” he said. “These actions peddle fear. They are ill-informed, and I believe misguided. Some are unconstitutional, and others are just plain un-American.”
ACLU Urges Virginia Legislators
To Preserve First Amendment
The ACLU of Virginia and seven other free speech organizations have joined to urge a Senate of Virginia committee to reject a bill that would require parental notification and consent for any curricular materials containing any “sexually explicit” content.
A letter was sent today to Sen. Stephen Newman (R-Forest), chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Health, and copied to all members of that committee, stating that House Bill 2191, sponsored by Del. Steve Landes (R-Weyers Cave) would be an unconstitutional limit on free speech.
“Singling out books with sexual content for special scrutiny constitutes constitutionally impermissible content and viewpoint discrimination,” the letter states. “The First Amendment prohibits agents of the state, including public school officials, from restricting or burdening access to books or ideas based on their content or viewpoint or because they are controversial, unpopular, or offensive.”
The letter was jointly signed by representatives of the ACLU of Virginia, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the National Council of Teachers and English, American Booksellers for Free Expression, the Free Expression Advocacy Association of American Publishers, the Authors Guild, and the Children’s and Young Adult Book Committee of PEN America.
Local Athletes Will Head to Special
Olympics World Games in Austria
Christina Dryer, of Chester, will go for the gold in speed skating this March. For Christina attending World Games is a great honor. If it wasn’t for Special Olympics, she notes she would not have had the incredible opportunity to travel and compete on a world stage. Christina, 27, has been involved in Special Olympics for 16 years; this will be her first time participating in World Games. Outside of speed skating, Christina loves to roller skate, and play basketball and softball.
Chesterfield County resident Craig Licorish, Jr. will also be hitting the ice to compete for the gold. Through Special Olympics Craig, 16, has met new and interesting people outside of his family and school, which has boosted his confidence. A 10-year veteran of Special Olympics, Craig is looking forward to attending his first World Games, traveling abroad and learning about other countries and people. “I must put my best foot forward and show that I deserve to represent my country,” he says.
Two Richmond-area nonprofits– Miracles in Motion, and SPARC (the School of Performing Arts in the Richmond Community) also will be participating in the Games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Taylor Carpenter, one of two local athletes who will be dancing with Miracles in Motion, also is a Special Olympics Virginia basketball player. Additionally, Mechanicsville-native Jason Mraz will be performing during the Games’ Opening Ceremony.
The Special Olympics World Games will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC. Check listings.
ACLU-VA, Other Rights Groups Tell Governor
Not to Let Virginia Take on Immigration Enforcement
The ACLU of Virginia and 15 other immigrants’ rights and social services organizations have joined together to urge Governor Terry McAuliffe not to accept responsibility on behalf of the Commonwealth for enforcing the federal government’s immigration laws.
The groups point out any agreement to do so will take the pressure off of President Donald Trump and Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform, which is the only solution to the problems associated with today’s badly broken and unworkable system.
Citing a recent executive order signed by the president entitled, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” the organizations signing the letter sent to the governor and copied to Attorney General Mark Herring expressed concern the order will be used to pressure the Commonwealth into helping federal authorities enforce rules of the broken immigration system. No state or federal law requires either state or local governments to do so.
The letter expresses the organizations’ deep concern about “the possible voluntary use of state and local police to enforce federal immigration law, the adverse effect this will have on the relationship of trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement, and possible legal liability for Commonwealth of Virginia law enforcement agencies that investigate, arrest, or detain people on behalf of the federal government. “
It goes on to detail a number of reasons why the governor should not sign any voluntary agreement to accept delegated enforcement authority or share information with federal authorities in the absence of a warrant or court order.
The letter asks the governor to commit publicly to: “i) decline to enter into any 287(g) agreement on behalf of the Commonwealth or any other agreement by which state agencies would voluntarily share information with ICE not pursuant to a warrant or court order; ii) make clear to the public that the Commonwealth of Virginia will not accept voluntarily this responsibility of the federal government; and iii) commit to fight vigorously any effort by the federal government to use threats of loss of federal funds to blackmail Virginia into accepting delegated responsibility to enforce federal immigration law.”