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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

900 East Main Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219


Contact: Emily Bolton
Office: (804)786-0147 
Cell: (804)839-9024 
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Haga clic aquí para obtener una copia de este comunicado  [spanish .pdf]

여기에 클릭하여 [관련 언어]로 본 보도 자료의 사본을 보십시오. [Korean .pdf]


~ Amicus brief argues that recently announced immigration enforcement reforms would create substantial economic and public safety benefits for Virginia while helping to keep families intact ~

RICHMOND(April 6, 2015)--Attorney General Mark R. Herring is joining 14 other states and the District of Columbia today in filing an amicus brief advocating for recently announced federal immigration reforms that "will increase State tax revenue, enhance public safety, and help avoid tragic situations in which parents are deported away from their U.S. citizen children, who are left to rely on state services or extended family." The package of executive immigration reforms announced by President Obama in November, and currently subject to an injunction preventing its implementation, would improve our nation's broken immigration system by improving border security, making it easier for highly-skilled workers to remain here, demanding accountability from undocumented immigrants who are already here, and prioritizing the deportation of dangerous criminals instead of breaking up families in Virginia and across the nation. It is estimated that the reforms could extend revocable protection from deportation to up to 92,000 undocumented immigrants in Virginia, producing more than $106 million in increased tax revenues over five years.


"Immigration has been a source of economic, cultural, and social benefit for the Commonwealth for more than 400 years," said Attorney General Herring. "While we're waiting on Congress to enact long overdue comprehensive immigration reform, the President has offered lawful, reasonable steps that will boost our economy, keep families intact, and promote public safety by removing criminals and increasing trust between law enforcement and communities. In Virginia, deferred action for young people has enabled us to offer an affordable college education to the children of immigrants who, in many cases, know no home but Virginia. These reforms would offer additional benefits to our Commonwealth, and they should be allowed to move forward."


The States' brief makes the case that, far from being an illegal and substantial burden on the states, the proposed federal immigration reforms are a lawful exercise of executive power that "will actually benefit States and further the public interest by allowing qualified undocumented immigrants to come out of the shadows, work legally, and better support their families." "When immigrants are able to work legally--even for a limited time--their wages increase, they seek work compatible with their skill level, and they enhance their skills to obtain higher wages, all of which benefits State economies by increasing income and growing the tax base."


Virginia and its fellow amicus states emphasize that "the immigration directives will also benefit States by improving public safety." Fear of deportation or immigration action causes many immigrants to avoid law enforcement interactions, making them less likely to report crimes such as domestic violence or robbery. Eliminating that fear will increase trust and interactions between law enforcement and immigrant communities. The reforms will also require undocumented immigrants seeking deferred action under the directives to pass criminal and national security checks, helping to identify those undocumented immigrants that are truly dangerous and should be deported.


Finally, the States' brief explains the important social benefits of a policy that keeps families intact without fear of having a parent or spouse deported. More than 16 million people across the country currently live in a mixed-status family, including 3.8 million undocumented immigrants with a child who is a U.S. citizen. "Removing an undocumented parent can subject those children to housing instability, food insecurity, and other harms," including placement in the foster care system at significant public expense. These reforms will result in "fewer heartbreaking incidents in which U.S. citizen children are separated from their deported parents and left to rely on extended family or state social services."


The States' amicus brief was filed in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the United States' appeal of a Texas District Court's ruling that prevented any immigration reform from being enacted in any state. Virginia joined lead amicus Washington, along with California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia.


A copy of the brief as-submitted will be circulated later today.


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RICHMOND(April 6, 2015)--Virginia business leaders, public safety officials, elected officials, and immigration advocates expressed support today for Attorney General Herring's decision to support targeted, compassionate immigration reform that "will increase State tax revenue, enhance public safety, and help avoid tragic situations in which parents are deported away from their U.S. citizen children."


J. Walter Tejada, member of the Arlington County Board and recipient of the 2011 Immigrant Advocate of the Year Award from the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition:

"Virginia can no longer afford to delay these needed immigration reforms. Immigrants are a huge part of our economy, and allowing them to come out of the shadows will help them create and secure good jobs, pay taxes, and become more included in our society. These reforms will also continue the American tradition of keeping families unified and not causing incredible hardships by splitting them up. I appreciate Attorney General Herring's leadership in standing up for the economic, social, and public safety benefits these reforms will offer our state."


Virginia Beach Police Chief Jim Cervera:

"Trust and credibility within the community are key to successful policing. In Virginia Beach, we've worked very hard on building our legitimacy in the community and making it clear that we can be trusted if you have witnessed or been a victim of a crime. Measures that further reduce fear and help build trust between immigrant communities and law enforcement will improve public safety in Hampton Roads and throughout the Commonwealth."


Michel Zajur, Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President:

"The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has long advocated for Comprehensive Immigration Reform as an absolute necessity to a strong economy. We applaud Attorney General Herring and his colleagues for their effort to support the President's Executive Action."


Delegate Mark Keam (35-Fairfax):

"This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.  Because of that bipartisan law passed by Congress, today, our nation is larger and more diverse in population than ever before.  As one beneficiary of the 1965 law and as an immigrant state legislator, I know how much the demographics of the Commonwealth of Virginian has improved in recent decades.  I'm also thankful for the tremendous economic contributions made by immigrants to Virginia, even though many of them are forced to live in the shadows due to uncertainties in their status.  Immigration is mostly a federal issue, and yet Congress has failed to update our laws to reflect the urgencies of the current trends.  Without action by Congress, our states will continue to bear the economic, public safety and societal costs of dealing with a broken immigration system.  That is why I applaud President Obama's lawful actions to solve the problems within the confines of the executive branch.  I thank Attorney General Mark Herring for his leadership in filing this amicus brief in support of the President's actions."


Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington, Fairfax):

"America's immigration system is broken at the Federal level. With the repeated refusal by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to address this critical issue President Obama's reasonable administrative actions can only be viewed as sensible and appropriate. Beyond the issues of public safety and the moral importance of keeping families together these administrative actions also make economic sense. The Council of Economic Advisors conservatively estimates that the administrative actions taken by President Obama on immigration will raise the level of U.S. GDP between .4 percent over ten years - equal to $90 billion in real GDP - and cut the Federal deficit by $25 billion. These figures could go substantially higher. I applaud Attorney General Herring for filing the amicus brief supporting the President's efforts to reform and improve the nation's immigration system." 


Dae Joong Yoon,  Executive Director  of NAKASEC (National Korean American Service & Education Consortium):

"We welcome Attorney General Mark Herring's stance and announcement in support of the President's executive actions on DACA and DAPA, which would allow students in Virginia to have access to affordable higher education and immigrant parents to continue to contribute to Virginia but with a legal right to work that would allow for fair treatment. According to the Center for American Progress, if DACA and DAPA are implemented, the U.S. gross domestic product would increase by $230 billion and 28,814 jobs would be created over the next ten years. DACA and DAPA are good for America and Virginia."


Edgar Aranda-Yanoc, President of VACOLAO (Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations):

"As the chief law enforcement officer serving a southern state, Virginia's Attorney General Mark Herring's decision to join with other attorneys general in the filing of the amicus brief in support of the President's DAPA and DACA programs demonstrates broad consensus that the programs are not only legal but will also benefit their respective states by helping millions of families come out of the shadows and contribute to their local communities and economies. Attorney General Herring's actions demonstrate a commitment to support justice, equality and opportunity for all of Virginia's residents including the most vulnerable who just want a chance to build their lives in the country they consider their home."


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