Virginia’s Republican attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, has issued a legal opinion stating that police may check the immigration status of anyone they stop for any reason. “Virginia law enforcement officers have the authority to make the same inquiries as those contemplated by the new Arizona law,” Cuccinelli wrote, saying officers could “detain and briefly question” anyone they suspected of breaking immigration laws.
Until now, authorities were only allowed to check on the status of anyone arrested and jailed, the Washington Post explains. The state was working on an Arizona-like law to expand that, but with Democrats likely to block it, a Republican state rep asked Cuccinelli for his opinion. Now, he wants Gov. Bob McDonnell, also a Republican, to codify it as an executive order. Law enforcement was caught off guard. “We were not consulted,” said the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police. “We have a mixed bag of feelings.”