Progressive group ends 'direct aid' to Northam
© Greg Nash

A progressive grassroots group announced Thursday that it will no longer "directly aid" Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, citing his comments on immigration.

Democracy for America (DFA) announced in a statement that it would no longer mobilize voters in Virginia to vote for Northam and instead would focus on down-ballot races. 

DFA had never officially endorsed Northam but had worked on coordinated campaign efforts.

The group pointed to Northam's comments saying he would oppose "sanctuary cities" in Virginia as one reason for pulling "direct aid" from his campaign.

"Ralph Northam's gutless, politically senseless, and morally debased decision yesterday to openly backtrack on his commitment to standing up for immigrant families is a picture-perfect example of why Democracy for America never endorsed him in the primary and focused the entirety of our efforts in Virginia on down-ticket races, like Justin Fairfax's campaign for Lieutenant Governor. It's also why, today, we're announcing that we will no longer do any work to directly aid Northam's gubernatorial efforts," DFA Executive Director Charles Chamberlain said in a statement.

Northam said Wednesday that he would sign a bill banning sanctuary cities in the state if one of Virginia's cities tries to become one. Sanctuary cities do not assist federal immigration authorities with enforcement.

The issue remains a major one for Democrats, who are pushing back against the administration's moves to deport record numbers of law-abiding illegal immigrants. 

They also criticized the decision by the Virginia Democratic Coordinated campaign to leave Justin Fairfax, the party's candidate for lieutenant governor, off of literature given to canvassers. 

"Following that racist action, we decided to remove Northam's name from the tens of thousands of volunteer Get-Out-the-Vote calls our members are making in Virginia, but, for the sake of Democratic comity, we refrained from publicly discussing that decision," the statement continued, referencing the lack of Fairfax's name on literature. 

While Fairfax has called the incident an "accident," it has caused discontent within the party and among African-American voters just weeks away from the election.