Vogel downplays missed vote on immigrant bill

Jill Holtzman Vogel

State Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel, R-Upperville, downplayed a vote she missed Tuesday on a bill that would have scrapped in-state tuition for public college students who came to this country years ago as illegal immigrants.

The bill, which was backed by most Republicans, and opposed by Democrats, failed 20-19. Sen. John C. Watkins, R-Powhatan, voted against the bill.

Holtzman Vogel said Watkins’ vote and the near-certainty that Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph S. Northam would have voted with his party against the bill to break any deadlock meant that the proposal would have been defeated, no matter what she did.

Democratic Gov.Terry McAuliffe has also said he will veto the legislation.

“The bottom line is there are 2,000 to 3,000 bills every year,” Holtzman Vogel said. “Sometimes you have to leave the floor and miss a vote.”

Holtzman Vogel said a similar bill is under consideration in the House of Delegates and is likely to reach the Senate, where she will have a second chance to vote on whether in-state tuition should remain available for some illegal immigrants.

“I do not want my constituents to ever think I am shirking my duty or throwing a vote one way or another,” Holtzman Vogel said.

The Senate bill was aimed at undoing a decision by Attorney General Mark Herring last year that cleared the way for illegal immigrants to receive in-state college tuition if they were brought to the United States as children.

In an email message, Herring, a Democrat, called the Senate bill “mean-spirited” and its supporters part of “the radical fringe in Richmond.”

“We want our best and brightest students not to be held back by where they came from,” Herring said.

Holtzman Vogel said she is waiting to see the final form of the House version before she decides whether to support or oppose it.

“We realize a lot of people care about it, and it was a very powerful debate,” Holtzman Vogel said of the Senate legislation.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com