Gov. McDonnell Shoots Down Immigration Request

By Jennifer Gastwirth
|  Tuesday, Aug 31, 2010  |  Updated 10:00 PM EDT
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Gov. McDonnell Shoots Down Immigration Request

NBCWashington

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is turning a deaf ear to requests that his administration not pursue civil immigration law-enforcement powers.

Instead, he wants to give state and local police the green light to check an immigrant’s citizenship status when making an arrest. That would entail being able to question and detain illegal immigrants suspected in crimes.

The Virginia Alliance for Sensible Community Policing Efforts sent the governor a letter Monday highlighting its opposition.

"We are particularly concerned about the severe chilling effect that descends on immigrant communities, and especially on immigrant crime victims and witnesses, if they perceive that law enforcement is to be feared rather than trusted," the alliance wrote.

If the immigration law continues moving forward, select state troopers would be trained on how to enforce the new rules.

McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson said the move would be "a common-sense way for the federal government to partner with the commonwealth to improve public safety."

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