New bill would make ‘sanctuary cities’ illegal

The city of Syracuse has declared itself to be a sanctuary city, which will stand in defiance of the new president’s immigration policies. A new bill introduced in the Assembly would cut off state funding to Syracuse and make it illegal for police to ignore federal Homeland Security regulations.


On Tuesday Jan. 24, Assemblyman Dean Murray, R-East Patchogue, introduced a bill he says would help safeguard New Yorkers by taking away local authority to flout federal homeland security laws that pertain to deporting undocumented immigrants with a criminal record.

Murray’s New York Combating Alien Recidivism and Ending Sanctuary (NY CARES) Act would “prohibit local governments and entities thereof, including sheriff’s departments, municipal police departments and district attorney’s offices, from adopting laws or policies which impede or interfere with the enforcement of federal homeland security laws.”

Last week, President Donald Trump announced he will follow through with one of his core campaign promises, allocating federal resources to “build the wall” to keep undocumented Mexican immigrants from entering the United States.

Trump also signed an executive order banning immigration from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

“Ensuring the safety of our citizens is the paramount duty of government,” Murray said, “and the NY CARES Act does just that by making certain that all forms of local government and law enforcement will not adopt laws or policies that impede or interfere with enforcement of federal Homeland Security laws.”

In the bill text, Murray cites the July 2015 murder of Kate Steinle in San Francisco as a prime example of why the legislation is needed. Steinle was killed by a Mexican national with several prior felony convictions and her murder became a rallying cry for those calling for tougher immigration regulations.

According to the Pew Research Center, New York state is one of six states that host 59 percent of all unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The other five states are Texas, California, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois.

The general purpose of the bill (A.2872) would be to make sure that no convicted immigrant’s immigration status be lawfully hidden from investigators. The legislation would withhold state funding to any county, city, town or village, or any agency, office, department or authority thereof, determined to be in wilful violation of the law.

Assemblyman Murray

“By guaranteeing that no state and federal regulations or policies will overlap or contradict each other during matters of security, we can rest assured that our homes and neighbors will be safe,” Murray said.

The bill, which has 17 Republican co-sponsors, was introduced in the Assembly Government Operations Committee. There is no Senate version. If it is passed, the bill would take effect immediately.

The Center for Immigration Studies identifies Wayne, Nassau, Saratoga, Onondaga, Saint Lawrence, Franklin and Rensselaer counties as sanctuary counties. Suffolk County recently retracted its status as a sanctuary county. Until the recent declaration by the city of Syracuse, the CIS map of New York state listed New York City as the only sanctuary city in the state of New York as of Dec. 14, 2016. The village and town boards of New Paltz are looking to make the community a “sanctuary city,” and Kingston is also on its way to becoming one.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is providing local governments and law enforcement agencies with a “legal road-map” for improving public safety by protecting vulnerable immigrant communities. Part of that road-map provides local governments with model laws and policies that, if voluntarily enacted by a local government, would codify “sanctuary” policies into local law. Several cities across New York state, including Syracuse and New York City, have successfully adopted such policies.

In an open letter to President Trump concerning immigration, Francisco Moya, D-Jackson Heights, wrote: “If you want to strip sanctuary cities of funding to force us into complying with your vindictive anti-immigrant executive actions, go ahead; that won’t make us budge. Our principles cannot be bought and, besides, you could use the money seeing as Mexico won’t be paying for this wall you want to build, the American taxpayers will.

“And when you build that wall, know that we’ll build a taller one between our local law enforcement and the federal authorities charged with enforcing your misguided deportation agenda,” Moya’s letter reads. “We’ll put that wall around our agencies so you could never pry the sensitive information immigrants entrusted us to keep. We will never be an accomplice to your egregious executive orders that tarnish the dignity and image of our country.

“New York will stand behind the hundreds of thousands of families that rightfully call this state home,” the letter continued. “Diversity is in ingrained in the streets immigrants built, inscribed in our harbor and woven into the very fabric of every community living here.”

Moya was expected to speak Tuesday at the Empire State Plaza unveiling new legislation that would grant driver’s licenses to undocumented New Yorkers.