WASHINGTON – Addressing President Trump’s vow to crack down on sanctuary cities, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said he’s “all for coordination” between local law enforcement and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regarding information about people who are “stopped,” but he refuses to “turn” local police into ICE officers.
McAuliffe said he plans to veto the anti-sanctuary city bills that were passed by the state legislature, which would prohibit local governments from declaring themselves “sanctuary cities” and impeding the enforcement of federal immigration law.
McAuliffe was asked if local law enforcement should report every crime committed by undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
“Listen, I’m all for coordination on either issues of information about people; I have no problems with that. If someone is stopped, to pass on information, I’ve never had a problem with that, but we’re not turning them into ICE officers,” McAuliffe, chairman of the National Governors Association, told PJM at the winter meeting in Washington this past weekend.
President Trump recently signed an executive order that would eliminate federal funding for sanctuary cities that do not cooperate with federal authorities on immigration law.
McAuliffe was asked what he advises localities in Virginia to do in response to Trump’s executive order.
“I had three bills that I am vetoing from the legislature on this. I am not using my local law enforcement as federal ICE officers. They’re busy and the head of my sheriffs, our state troopers – I’m in constant discussion,” McAuliffe said. “They don’t want this. They’re busy. They’re doing their job. They are not trained nor do they have the time to go become federal ICE officers. We’re just not going to allow it in Virginia.”
McAuliffe said his “biggest issue” right now is figuring out what Virginia would do if Republicans eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
“I lose $200 million per year so that’s my biggest concern – what are we going to do if you’re talking about block grants? I told Speaker Ryan I am open to any discussion – what’s the per cap rate? We just don’t know anything and we don’t know how much we are going to get, so I am open to whatever we can do to make it the most efficient healthcare system – low-cost, everybody gets quality care. That’s what we all want to do and we need to be partners because we administer our Medicaid programs in our states,” he said.
McAuliffe said he agrees with Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich that a full repeal of Obamacare without a replacement is the wrong way to go.
“I will follow the lead of Governor Kasich. If John’s not happy with it, I doubt I’ll be happy with it,” he said with a smile.
McAuliffe said Trump’s campaign rhetoric on repealing Obamacare quickly has now “met the reality” of governing the country.
“Rhetoric has now met reality of governing and I think Republicans in the Congress have realized it’s not as easy to throw 18 million people out with no healthcare who now have healthcare,” McAuliffe said. “It’s a hard thing to do, so I think they are having a very difficult time trying to figure out how they do it and they have to figure that out. We want to be part of that process. I told the speaker I am open to work with anybody at any time but I don’t want less care. I don’t want people losing their healthcare. If I don’t have a healthy workforce, I can’t create jobs if I don’t have a great healthy workforce.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price addressed the NGA meeting in a closed session on Saturday. On his way out of the meeting, PJM asked if the Obamacare replacement is coming.
“We’re having good conversations with the governors,” he said as he walked by.
“Will the Republicans keep the Medicaid expansion?” Price was asked by another reporter.
“We’re having great conversations,” he replied.