Current Weather Conditions

Seven Day Forecast for Emporia, Virginia

Community Calendar Sponsored By...



Appeals court hears suit against travel ban

By Sarah King, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – A panel of 13 federal judges on Monday interrogated lawyers for President Donald Trump and plaintiffs challenging his revised executive order banning travel from six Muslim-majority countries.

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the high-profile case, in which the American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the order as unconstitutional on the basis of religious freedom.

The Richmond-based appellate court will decide whether to uphold an injunction issued by a federal judge in Maryland blocking Trump’s executive order.

At issue in Richmond on Monday was the tension between securing national security interests and ensuring the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which guarantees freedom of religion. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall squared off against ACLU immigration attorney Omar Jadwat on the first-ever live broadcast of the 4th Circuit Court on C-SPAN.

“In this highly unique case, the record provides strong indications that the national security purpose is not the primary purpose for the travel ban,” the U.S. District Court’s opinion states. It said evidence “suggests that the religious purpose was primary, and the national security purpose, even if legitimate, is a secondary post hoc rationale.”

On Jan. 27, shortly after taking office, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. After the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked that order, Trump revised it. The revised order, issued on March 6, banned travel from six predominantly Muslim countries. (Iraq was dropped from the list of banned nations due to “ongoing cooperation between Iraq and the United States in fighting ISIS.”)

The revised order, intended to take effect March 16, also halted Syrian refugee admissions for 120 days. Unlike the initial executive order, green-card and visa holders would be exempt from the ban.

Although a randomly selected panel of three judges typically hears cases in appellate courts, the ACLU successfully filed a motion for a full panel, or “en banc” hearing, last month. Ten of the 13 judges Monday were appointed by Democratic Presidents Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Two conservative judges – J. Harvie Wilkinson III, who is Wall’s father-in-law, and Allyson Duncan – recused themselves from the case.

During oral arguments, Wall said Trump’s travel restrictions were not religiously motivated but were intended to better screen “all nationals” from the cited countries who might present terrorism and national security threats.

The order included citizens from Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and Libya – each of which appeared on a 2015 State Department list of “high risk” states for terrorism.

“(Trump) made clear in the months leading up to the election … what he was talking about was threats from specific countries,” Wall said. “He made clear he wasn’t talking about Muslims all over the world – and that’s why it’s not a Muslim ban.”

Several judges expressed skepticism at the assertion that the ban was issued for reasons of national security. They pointed to evidence in the District Court’s opinion citing multiple statements Trump made at various stages of his presidential campaign last year. During the campaign, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the United States, stating that “Islam hates us.” He repeatedly promised to impose a Muslim ban if elected.

“The president never repudiated the campaign statements he made,” said Judge Robert B. King. “He changed it from religion to nationality … and (New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani) advised him to do it that way. But he’s never repudiated what he said.”

Wall countered by stating Trump could not be held accountable for what he said on the campaign trail before taking official government office.

“(Trump) was elected … he took an oath to uphold the constitution,” Wall said. “What he was saying was, ‘I want a brief opportunity – as the last president had – to make sure the vetting procedures we have in place are adequate.’”

Judge Barbara Keenan asked Wall if barring millions of nationals was perhaps too broad, or even effective.

“It really is about 200 million people caught in this net when you add up these six countries,” Keenan said. “Does that affect the facial legitimacy of the order when it has such a broad sweep of 200 million people?”

Judge Henry F. Floyd asked Wall if there was “anything other than willful blindness” that would bar Trump’s previous comments from qualifying as an “animus” – hostile motivation – against Muslims. He cited in particular a statement by presidential press secretary Sean Spicer that the principles of the second order “remain the same” as the first executive order, which was ruled unconstitutional in February.

In contrast, Judge Dennis Shedd asked Jadwat if, even in the presence of a proven animus, the president is barred from acting in the interest of national security.

“If, in this hypothetical, the president has a clear animus against a religious group and it becomes clear to everybody that group presents a clear national security threat and everybody agrees to that – can that president take action against that threat or is the president disqualified from acting on that threat because of that animus?” Shedd asked.

According to the U.S. District Court ruling, 10 former national security, foreign policy and intelligence officials, four of whom were aware of the available terrorism intelligence as of Jan. 19, 2017, stated “there is no national security purpose for a total bar on entry for aliens” from the listed countries.

“The officials note that no terrorist acts have been committed on U.S. soil by nationals of the banned countries since September 11, 2001, and that no intelligence as of January 19, 2017 suggested any such potential threat,” according to the opinion.

Jadwat noted that Trump’s executive order did not include all of the countries on the State Department’s 2015 list but targeted Muslim-majority states. He added that before signing the order, Trump did not consult any of the relevant agencies regarding whether those countries actually posed a threat domestically.

“So he offended the bureaucracy? That’s a constitutional crisis? He offended the bureaucracy?” Shedd asked rhetorically.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which barred Trump’s first immigration executive order, will consider Trump’s second travel ban Tuesday, also live on C-SPAN.

ICE activity in Virginia spikes under Trump

By Rodrigo Arriaza, Capital News Service

 RICHMOND – The Trump administration’s immigration policy has left a cloud hanging over the heads of many undocumented immigrants living in Virginia.

While the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency says it is enforcing existing laws, critics say the agents are doing so with a vengeance.

“Their mission is basically to separate families, and because of that, they are very easily antagonized,” said Camille Brenke, a member of ICE Out of RVA, a collective advocating for the rights of undocumented immigrants living in Richmond.

President Donald Trump has not dismantled legal protections such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which allows certain groups of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country. But advocates for immigrant rights fear he eventually will eliminate DACA.

Even so, Trump has taken other actions that have made many people anxious because of the increased presence of ICE agents in communities where undocumented people live.

Shortly after taking office in January, Trump signed executive orders that greatly expanded ICE agents’ power to target and detain undocumented immigrants. While President Barack Obama’s administration insisted it targeted only convicted criminals, Trump gave ICE broader discretion to detain immigrants based on suspicion alone. This has led to the arrests of many people with no criminal record at all, even ICE officials acknowledge.




One of Trump’s executive orders allows ICE to arrest undocumented immigrants if they are suspected of having “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense.” In the weeks after the order was put into place, ICE carried out a series of raids across the United States and arrested at least 683 undocumented immigrants.

According to statistics released by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, from January through mid-March of this year, ICE arrested more than 21,000 undocumented immigrants, including more than 5,400 with no criminal records.

The Obama administration carried out more deportations than any previous president, removing more than 2.4 million undocumented immigrants from 2009 to 2014 and arresting thousands with no criminal record in the process. However, toward the end of his second term, Obama targeted undocumented immigrants with a proven criminal history. During the first three months of 2016, ICE detained about 14,500 undocumented immigrants, including more than 2,500 with no criminal records.

Bottom-line comparison: Under Trump, overall detentions increased by about 32 percent – and detentions of undocumented immigrants without a criminal record doubled.

In Virginia, there have been reports of ICE agents stopping people for minor offenses and detaining people in and around churches, schools and hospitals. In the past, ICE has officially recognized such venues as “sensitive locations” and forbidden agents from arresting people there. Advocates for undocumented immigrants fear that policy has changed.

Their fears were heightened in February when seven men were stopped and arrested by ICE after leaving a hypothermia shelter located inside a church in Arlington.

Germaine Wright Sobral, a partner at Montagut & Sobral Law Office in Falls Church, has been working with undocumented immigrants in Virginia for more than 30 years. She says the recent spike in ICE activity is due to the new administration’s feeling emboldened to pursue immigrants for minor offenses.

“Under Obama, if you had an order of deportation but you weren’t committing any bad acts, they were basically not enforcing the order of removal,” Sobral said. “But now, with the direction of the new attorney general and President Trump, they are. They feel liberated to be able to do that.”

While Sobral has not heard reports of ICE conducting mass raids on homes or worksites in Virginia since Trump’s election, she said she has seen other ways in which agents have stepped up their activity over the past few months.

“This week, I have had three people come into the office who have been picked up on drunk-in-public charges, which is a Class 4 misdemeanor – it is punishable by a fine only,” Sobral said. “What they have done is, they have picked them up, taken them to the police station and had them processed by ICE with detainers, which is absurd because the offense doesn’t require the officer to take someone to jail; they could just ticket them and let them sleep it off.”

As a result of the increased ICE activity in the state, Gov. Terry McAuliffe met with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. McAuliffe said he came away from the meeting with positive results, stressing that Kelly assured him that only undocumented immigrants involved in “criminal enterprises” would be targeted.

Brenke, a member of ICE Out of RVA, questioned the assurances Kelly gave McAuliffe. She said the newfound freedom that ICE has been given under the executive order has left undocumented immigrants in Richmond reeling.

“Obama created this system of really targeting certain individuals and finding out, ‘OK, who has a criminal history? How can we find them?’” Brenke said. “But now, they’ll just go to a random place and see who’s undocumented and just take whoever’s around. So that way, it’s definitely more visible, and there’s definitely more fear in our communities.”

Both Sobral and Brenke also said ICE agents have misrepresented themselves as a means of attracting undocumented immigrants. They cited instances in which ICE agents presented themselves as local police rather than federal officers.

“They were saying that they were the police, and they’re not,” Sobral said. “That is a misrepresentation. They are not the police – they are ICE.”

In response to critics, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has cited criminal and public safety threats as their top priority in immigration enforcement efforts.

Sobral and Brenke suggest that undocumented immigrants know their rights if they find themselves in an encounter with ICE.

“People are more aware of the fact that they have to follow police instructions,” Sobral said. “But if an ICE officer stops me and asks me for ID, unless he has an articulable suspicion that I am an undocumented immigrant, there’s absolutely nothing that I need to do to answer him.

“You can remain silent,” Sobral said. “Whether or not you’re documented, you have these rights.”

Brunswick Academy Announces 2017 Honor Graduates

Brunswick Academy is pleased to announce that it will hold its 2017 Commencement Exercises on Friday, May 26, 2017 at 7:00 PM in the Gymnasium where 22 graduates will receive their diplomas.  The traditional  Baccalaureate Service will also be held in the Gymnasium on Sunday May 21, 2017 at 6:00 PM.  The guest speaker will be Reverend Bryson Smith, Lead Pastor of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Staunton, Virginia. 


The 2017 valedictorian is Samantha Kelsey Woyer (above left), daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Woyer of Alberta. Miss Woyer will attend the University of Virginia.  William Howard Wright (above right) is the salutatorian and is the son of Mrs. and Mrs. William Wright of White Plains. Mr. Wright will attend North Carolina State University in the fall.

     Zihua Qu     Xuanjiang Guo

There will be three other honor graduates at this year’s commencement.  They are (pictured above, left to right) Mason Rylands Jones, son of Mr. and Mrs. Sigmund Jones of Lawrenceville will attend the University of Virginia; Zihua Qu (Lesley), daughter of host family Ms. Kim Clary Williams of Lawrenceville will attend the University of California-Davis; and Xuanjiang Guo (Bob), son of host family, Mr. and Mrs. Travis Turner of Emporia will attend Perdue University in the fall.

Volunteering The Greatest Gift You Can Give!

SOUTH HILL, VA– VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital’s Cancer & Specialty Care is excited to announce a new volunteer program.  Volunteers in this program will provide valuable support services to patients with cancer and their families.  We are seeking people with a little extra time and the desire to impact the lives of others.  Come see for yourself how rewarding it can be!

 Volunteers are needed to support a variety of services including:  greeting patients and visitors as they enter the Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center and the Solari Radiation Therapy Center; assisting with lunches/snacks to patients receiving treatment; making courtesy calls to patients; preparing new patient packets; and providing companionship to patients.

 VCU Health CMH partners with VCU Massey Cancer Center to provide advanced care for cancer and blood disorders in Southern Virginia and Northern North Carolina.  Cancer care is provided in the Hendrick Cancer & Rehab Center and in the Solari Radiation Therapy Center, both located at 750 Lombardy Street in South Hill, VA.

 You can volunteer Monday through Friday during regular business hours.  You must be at least 18 years of age to participate.  For more information or to schedule an introductory meeting, contact Mary Hardin, RN, MSN, Director of Cancer & Specialty Care at (434) 774-2417.

 Volunteers love their jobs and are dedicated to strengthening health services for this region. 

Subscribe to RSS - 2017-5-9

Emporia News

Stories on are be searchable, using the box above. All new stories will be tagged with the date (format YYYY-M-D or 2013-1-1) and the names of persons, places, institutions, etc. mentioned in the article. This database feature will make it easier for those people wishing to find and re-read an article.  For anyone wishing to view previous day's pages, you may click on the "Previous Day's Pages" link in the menu at the top of the page, or search by date (YYYY-M-D format) using the box above.

Comment Policy:  When an article or poll is open for comments feel free to leave one.  Please remember to be respectful when you comment (no foul or hateful language, no racial slurs, etc) and keep our comments safe for work and children. .Comments are moderated and comments that contain explicit or hateful words will be deleted.  IP addresses are tracked for comments. serves Emporia and Greensville County, Virginia and the surrounding area
and is provided as a community service by the Advertisers and Sponsors.
All material on is copyright 2005-2016 is powered by Drupal and based on the ThemeBrain Sirate Theme.

Submit Your Story!

Emporia News welcomes your submissions!  You may submit articles, announcements, school or sports information using the submission forms found here, or via e-mail on  Currently, photos and advertisements will still be accepted only via e-mail, but if you have photos to go along with your submission, you will receive instructions via e-mail. If you have events to be listed on the Community Calendar, submit them here.

Contact us at is hosted as a community Service by Telpage.  Visit their website at or call (434)634-5100 (NOTICE: Telpage cannot help you with questions about Emporia New nor does Teplage have any input the content of Emporia News.  Please use the e-mail address above if you have any questions, comments or concerns about the content on Emporia News.)