Our friend, Vincent Chiarello of the Virginia-based American Council for Immigration Reform, offers this follow up on his earlier pre-election comments regarding the future for immigration reform in Virginia.
The following is Chiarello ‘s assessment.
The election results throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia in November indicate that, at first blush, progress toward resolution of many of the problems created by illegal immigration took a step backwards.
However, it may be more accurate to say that it took a step sideways.
The House of Delegates remained heavily Republican, and most of the GOP nominees won re-election; further, there were also GOP first-time candidates who ran on a platform of dealing forcefully with illegal aliens, and did well.
That chamber is not the problem for, under the leadership of Dave Albo, bills will be introduced during the upcoming legislative session (Jan.-Mar.) grappling with that issue.
The loss of the GOP majority in the Virginia Senate was a setback, for Democrats picked up four seats and now have a 21 to 19 edge.
To worsen the situation in the Upper Chamber, Sen. Jay O'Brien, who campaigned on the baleful impact of illegal aliens, and has been a stalwart to the cause, lost a seat he had held for eight years. Another strong supporter of anti-illegal immigration legislation, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, won his victory by 92 votes in an election that saw 35,000 votes cast.
Still, there is room for some optimism, for many of the Democratic candidates, recognizing the volatility of the issue, were not shy about saying that something had to be done in the Commonwealth to deal with the hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens who currently reside here.
Of the GOP candidates who lost in the Senate, several had been consistently hostile to legislation aimed at controlling illegal immigration; hence the GOP loss may not be as serious as originally thought.
If the Black Caucus in the two chambers, which has slowly been modifying its stance of voting against bills controlling illegal immigration continues, our side may see some useful legislation come out of the legislative session.
The real question of what will be done rests with Democratic Governor Tim Kaine.
The late John F. Kennedy was once asked if he was, "... an optimist or a pessimist?"
Kennedy replied that he was a "realist." In that light, there is little hope that Kaine will drop his mantra that, "Immigration is a Federal problem," and deal with the issue directly. The victory of his party in the Virginia Senate conveniently lets him off the hook, unless some calamitous immigration-related incident takes place. More likely than not, the realistic approach is that the cause of immigration reform depends on Democratic Party support, and if the past is prologue, we should not hold our collective breath. But stranger things have been known to happen.
It is the long-term prospects that are the most challenging. In the legislative elections in suburban northern Virginia, the population center and cash cow of the Commonwealth, 11 candidates ran unopposed: 10 Democrats and one Republican—the aforementioned Albo.
As the area fills increasingly with more and more immigrants, as well as transplanted Yankees, the more conservative aspects of Virginia's political landscape may shift increasingly toward liberal and Democratic perspectives.
The day of the elections, one local newspaper carried the headline, "Virginia is Turning Blue," i.e., increasingly Democratic.
If so, that puts extra importance on dealing with immigration in the short run since our opponents are playing a waiting game and are counting on time being on their side.