Virginia Grapples with Illegal Immigration in 2003

For Release: March 3, 2003

Website: Tim Murtaugh Phone: (804) 786-3518 E-Mail:

Kilgore and Cantor Urge Approval of Illegal Immigrant Bills- Appeal to Governor Mark Warner to Sign Driver's License, In-State Tuition Legislation Into Law

RICHMOND - Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and 7th District Congressman Eric Cantor today urged Governor Mark Warner to sign into law two sets of bills passed by the General Assembly that address illegal immigrants.

One set of legislation blocks illegal aliens from obtaining driver's licenses, while the other clarifies in the Code of Virginia that illegal immigrants are ineligible for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. Cantor has sponsored similar driver's license legislation in Congress.

"These are two common sense pieces of legislation," Kilgore said. "The General Assembly has spoken overwhelmingly. Governor Warner should sign these bills into law."

The first bill, sponsored by Sen. Jay O'Brien (Fairfax) and Del. Dave Albo (Springfield), prohibits illegal immigrants from obtaining driver's licenses or official Virginia identification cards. It also ties the expiration dates of driver's licenses held by legal immigrants to the expiration dates of the immigration documents they possess.

The conference committee report on O'Brien's bill, SB 1058, passed the Senate by a vote of 35-to-5 and the House by a vote of 82-to15. Albo's bill, HB 1954, was approved by the Senate by 30-to-8 vote and by the House in an 82-to-16 vote.

"It makes no sense to validate illegal behavior by providing this essential form of identification without restriction. A driver's license is a passport to all sorts of places and behaviors - including, of course, boarding an airplane," Kilgore said, noting that seven of the nineteen September 11th hijackers held fraudulently-obtained Virginia driver's licenses.

"While the General Assembly has already closed a loophole in the law that allowed these men to receive this identification, there is still more work to be done."

The other legislation makes it clear in the Code of Virginia that illegal immigrants are ineligible for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities. The average in-state student at a Virginia school is subsidized by the taxpayers an average of over $6,000 per year.

While recognizing that immigration is a federal issue, the Attorney General has advised school administrators that they should not, as a matter of policy, admit illegal aliens in the first place.

If schools choose to admit illegal immigrants, however, the Attorney General has advised them that the students are ineligible for in-state tuition. While Virginia law states that illegal aliens are unable to establish legal residency, Kilgore felt a clarification was necessary. Del. Thelma Drake (Norfolk) sponsored HB 2339, which passed the House 88-to-10 and the Senate 27-to-13.

"When you consider that out-of-state military personnel and their families stationed in Virginia cannot receive in-state tuition, it seems even more ridiculous to even have the discussion about providing these subsidies to illegal aliens," Kilgore said.

"Also, to suggest that we should look the other way for certain illegal aliens is an insult to the many millions of people who have gone through the process and done the right thing."

"This does not need study. If we come back one year from now, the issues will still be the same," Kilgore said. "Governor Warner should sign these bills."

(Illegal) Immigrant advocates blast Kilgore

The Associated Press

ARLINGTON, VA. - Immigrant rights organizations criticized state Attorney General Jerry Kilgore's demand that Virginia colleges rid their campuses of any illegal immigrants.

In a memo last month, Kilgore warned the colleges not to enroll illegal immigrants. He also instructed them to report to federal authorities any illegal immigrants they find on campus. Critics said at a news conference Friday that Kilgore's action unfairly penalizes foreign-born children for their parents' decision to come to the United States illegally. They also said it goes beyond any federal or state law by asking educators to act as police potentially in violation of confidentiality policies.

Kilgore staff members countered by saying they are concerned that illegal immigrants could be taking seats at state schools that would otherwise go to U.S. citizens. They also said that since last year's terrorist attacks, all universities carry a greater responsibility to help the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service monitor foreign students. "This is about differentiating between those who obey the law and those who willfully break it," said Kilgore spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

See Immigrant advocates blast Kilgore

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