News and Commentary

Virginia Democrats Refuse To Cooperate With ICE In Order To Combat Gun Crime
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam talks about how he was raised during an interview in the Governor's Mansion February 09, 2019 in Richmond, VA.
Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Virginia government refused to cooperate with federal laws requiring the state to share immigration information with the federal government, prompting the feds to withdraw hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Old Dominion State used to fight gun crime.

The Washington Free Beacon’s Stephen Gutowski reported Thursday that memos from the Department of Justice (DOJ) show that “two anti-gun-crime grants were transferred from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), which had previously administered the program, in Dec. 2018.”

State officials refused to comply with federal requirements, so the federal government took back some of its funding.

“DCJS will not be able to comply with the requirements and the agency has formally declined the awards,” one of the memos said. “The grants were awarded to the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to serve as the fiscal agent for the 2018 Project Safe Neighborhood (PSN) awards for the Eastern and Western Districts of the state of Virginia.”

As Gutowski reported, Virginia’s refusal to comply with federal requirements resulted in the state losing $665,673 in federal funding to reduce gun crimes.

“The grants are now administered through the non-profit Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police,” Gutowski reported.

A spokeswoman for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), told the Beacon that federal dollars are still working to reduce gun crime in the state.

“These federal dollars continue to flow to communities to help local law enforcement, prevention, and reentry,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to the outlet. “This ongoing program is one way we work to reduce violent crime—the governor has made it clear he supports commonsense gun safety measures to fully address the emergency of gun violence in the Commonwealth.”

Republican Todd Gilbert, the Virginia House of Delegates majority leader, told the Beacon that Northam appears more concerned with illegal immigrants than protecting citizens.

“Attorney General [Mark] Herring and Governor Northam have said the loss of lives in Virginia to guns is an emergency, yet they’re willing to walk away from grant funding for a program that has been proven to work,” Gilbert told the outlet. “They’re willing to put politics above saving lives. These programs work. They save lives, particularly those of young, African American men.”

As Gutowski reported, the funding was for the Project Safe Neighborhood program, which has reduced gun crimes and increased the prosecution of gun-related crimes.

“A 2009 National Institute of Justice study indicated cities involved in PSN saw a 4.1 percent decline in violent crime compared to a 0.9 percent decline for cities that did not participate,” Gutowski reported. “A 2018 report issued by Virginia attorney general Mark Herring’s (D.) office found that the local programs funded by a previous PSN grant were successful at reducing both violent crime and gun crime in the city of Norfolk, where homicide fell 25 percent.”

The news of state Democrats giving up funds to fight gun crimes in favor of illegal immigrants comes shortly after a Virginia police officer was suspended for cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The unnamed officer was getting details from drivers involved in a car accident when he or she learned one of the drivers had a warrant out for their arrest for failing to appear for a deportation hearing. The officer notified ICE and took the driver into custody before turning them over to the ICE agent. This violated police policy to only cooperate with ICE if the person is being arrested for a separate crime.