Virginia’s Split on Arizona Immigration Law

This is a guest post by Darren Rippy. Darren is a graduate student in the Master of Public Policy program at the College of William & Mary. He is a summer policy fellow at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy.

Virginia’s Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, announced recently that Virginia will be joining eight other states in filing an amicus brief in support of Arizona’s tough immigration law SB1070.

In his statement, Attorney General Cuccinelli discussed his amazement that the federal government has decided to sue Arizona. While discussing the “joint federal-state cooperative immigration enforcement program” that Congress has created over the years, the Attorney General failed to address any of the troubling aspects of Arizona’s new law, such as the potential for racial profiling that SB1070 creates.

Fortunately, not all Virginians are in agreement with Attorney General Cuccinelli. Shaun Kenney, who is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors, and an active blogger, opposes Arizona’s law on the grounds of both conservative and faith principles.

Mr. Kenney explains that as a conservative, he places America’s free market system and the commitment to individual liberty above any other principle. He states that we should not punish individuals who take the risk to get to America seeking to work hard and enjoy our freedoms. Especially when the current system is failing to properly function. Instead, Mr. Kenney recognizes the need to reform the current immigration system as the only solution that will maintain the commitment to the free market system and to personal liberty. As he states, “Let the solution be something other than that which treats symptoms without addressing cures.”

More importantly than his commitment to conservative ideals, in my opinion, is Mr. Kenney’s commitment to the values he upholds as a Catholic — I too am Catholic, so his second explanation especially resonates with me.

Mr. Kenney explains that as a Catholic, he is very much committed to social justice. Therefore, if an illegal immigrant came knocking on his front door, his Catholic-influenced instinct would be to provide the individual with “food, water, warmth, and safety. The last thing on [his] mind [would be] calling the cops.”

For Mr. Kenney, this is not because he would be seeking to break any laws, but rather that a high authority demands he respect the dignity of every person. He states, “After all, an unjust law is no law at all.

As a fellow Catholic, I could not have said it better myself.

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