Feb. 24 — Today Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed House Bill 2002, which would require the Department of Social Services to publish identifiable information for each refugee who is resettled in the Commonwealth. The Governor’s full veto statement is below:
Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2002, which requires the Department of Social Services to publish a report consisting of individually identifiable information for each refugee who is resettled in the Commonwealth.
Many individuals and families placed in Virginia through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program are fleeing governmental oppression, persecution, and violence. Many leave their countries because they are targeted by their home country’s government, often for helping to further American interests. Disclosing such information in this political climate not only sends a message of discrimination and fear, but it also poses a real danger to many of our newest Virginians.
Refugees are in the United States legally. They undergo a more rigorous screening process than anyone else allowed into the United States. Creating a publicly available list of these individuals would send a message of exclusion to people looking for the chance to rebuild their lives free of tyranny and oppression.
Resettlement programs in Virginia already engage in regular community dialogues to discuss refugee and community needs. House Bill 2002 would create an unnecessary burden for already overworked nonprofit organizations and would limit these organizations’ ability to accomplish their mission of safely settling refugees in the Commonwealth.
As Virginians, we know the many benefits and contributions that refugees bring to our communities and Virginia’s economy. House Bill 2002 sets us on the wrong path. It does not reflect Virginia’s values.
Accordingly, I veto this bill.
Terence R. McAuliffe