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Pastors want Richmond Police to check immigration status

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RICHMOND, Va. -- The debate over Richmond's unofficial status as a so-called "Sanctuary City" for unauthorized immigrants continues. A group of Richmond faith leaders voiced their opposition to the idea during a Wednesday press conference.

Earlier this week, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney issued a directive which, in part, ordered Richmond Police to continue its policy of not checking the immigration status of people they encounter.

A coalition of Richmond-area clergy said the mayor's directive could cost the city important funding from the federal government. They also argued it could create a safety risk for Richmond's legal residents.

"We are to help everyone who comes and asks for help," Bishop Leon Benjamin, with New Life Harvest Church, said. "But we are also citizens who have to abide by the laws of the land. "

Mayor Stoney's office stood by the mayor's directive by stating Richmond Police are tasked with keeping the community safe, not enforcing immigration laws.