Virginia GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Abruptly Changes Immigration Stance

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-VA) has many things to say on a variety of topics, but he has been quite deflective on immigration. In a matter of two days, he rapidly changed his stance on immigration reform in front of two distinct audiences.

During the first gubernatorial campaign debate last Saturday, Cuccinelli stood in front of a bipartisan crowd and strongly suggested that he supports immigration reform. He talked about being moved by a naturalization ceremony, and declared that immigration reform is “very important for America.”

“I want very much to see some sort of compromise reached in the area of immigration,” he said. “This issue needs to be resolved…in a way that’s favorable to expanding our economy in America.”

Yet during a town hall with conservatives on Monday, Cuccinelli took a harsher tone. This time, he derided legalization as “amnesty.” He even reiterated his 2010 Arizona-style “papers, please” legal ruling that allows law enforcement officials to ask people they stop or arrest legal status. Cuccinelli has thrown his full support behind Arizona’s anti-immigration SB1070 law.


Cuccinelli calls Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who is in hot water for smearing young immigrants as “drug mules,” his “very favorite” Congressman and has himself compared rats to immigrants in 2012. When asked about how to best deal with rats found in the Occupy D.C. protests, he told a conservative talk show that he was fiercely opposed to keeping them alive. “If you don’t move an animal at least 25 miles, it’ll come back. And so what’s the solution to that? Well, cross a river… it is worse than our immigration policy — you can’t break up rat families. Or raccoons or all the rest and you can’t even kill them. Unbelievable,” Cuccinelli said.

Going further back to 2008, Cuccinelli sponsored a bill that would remove the citizenship status of children born to undocumented immigrants. He also drafted a bill that would deny unemployment benefits to employees who do not speak English.

Five percent of Latino voters live in Virginia, but 86 percent of Virginians overwhelmingly support immigration reform. Additionally, at least 67 percent of Latino voters have strong ties to the undocumented population.

Despite Cuccinelli swinging back and forth on immigration, perhaps the best indicator comes from his campaign’s immigration website, which is “not found.” The page was taken down in March. At that time, the page read “This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it? It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for.”