Sanctuary Cities Are a Huge Deal in the Virginia Governor's Race. Here's Why.

Where do the 2017 Virginia Governor candidates stand on sanctuary cities?

On a Sunday morning this past June, a 17-year-old Northern Virginia girl was brutally assaulted and killed. The girl’s name was Nabra Hassanen. According to police, her alleged killer, 22-year-old Darwin Martinez Torres, purportedly struck Nabra with a metal baseball bat and left her body in a pond. The killing took place on Father’s Day, and Nabra’s parents were devastated.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that the alleged murderer is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador. He has also been accused of committing a previous sexual assault.

The victim lived in Reston, located in Fairfax County, which is a sanctuary county. The accused was living in Sterling, located in Loudoun County, which is not a sanctuary county. We may never know if sanctuary municipalities played a direct role in Nabra Hassanen’s brutal slaying, but one thing is for sure: the tragic incident has thrust our country’s immigration policies into the limelight once again. 

Where do the 2017 Virginia Governor candidates stand on sanctuary cities?

Ed Gillespie

 To date, Ed Gillespie has taken a strong stance against sanctuary cities, as articulated during the July 2017 Virginia Governor debate:


“On law enforcement issues, my policies will make us safer as a commonwealth. We were just talking about heinous crimes – we had a heinous crime happen up near me in Northern Virginia not too long ago where a young woman, 17 years old, celebrating in the midst of Ramadan was beaten to death – 17 years old – with a baseball bat, by someone here illegally. And I do believe that we should make sure we do not allow for the establishment of sanctuary cities in the commonwealth of Virginia. And as governor, I would sign a bill to ban it. The Lieutenant Governor cast a tie breaking vote against that. I don’t think that makes us safer in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I think that’s a significant different between us, this election.”

Ed Gillespie’s strong stance in support of immigration laws has drawn a clear contrast to the actions of Democrat Ralph Northam. Just this year, Ralph Northam cast a tie-breaking vote to defeat a bill that would have banned sanctuary cities in Virginia. He then went on record to brag about his position (video below) on the issue.

“They tried to pass a bill which I actually broke the tie on a few weeks ago on sanctuary cities. We don’t have any sanctuary cities here. So that was just another political scheme that the Republicans are playing, but no I don’t think that we need to pass other legislation.”


Both at a national and state level, the debate on Sanctuary Cities appears far from over.