Senate bill would outlaw sanctuary cities in New York

The Senate has passed a bill that would prohibit cities in New York from flouting federal laws regarding sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.

However, the legislation could face an uphill battle in the Assembly, according to the chair of the Governmental Operations Committee, where the bill resides.

The New Yorkers Combating Alien Recidivism and Ending Sanctuary (NY CARES) Act, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Croci, R-Sayville (S.3698/A.2872) would prohibit local governments and entities from creating laws that would interfere with federal immigration laws.

Sponsors say it would protect New Yorkers by ensuring that local governments cannot override federal detention requests. According to the bill memo, “local law enforcement agencies should not be providing sanctuary to any person who is in their custody, who is also the subject of a detention order issued by any federal law enforcement agency.”

However, exceptions to the bill include governments protecting individuals who are victims or witnesses to a crime, children attending school or individuals using municipal hospital services.

It would also require the commissioner and superintendent of the State Police to work together to develop a list of local governments that currently have laws which interfere with the enforcement of detention requests by the federal government. Local governments who are in violation will no longer receive state funding.

“In light of the increased threats posed by ISIS and terrorists worldwide, we must be smart about those who would come to New York City to harm New Yorkers,” Croci said. “We cannot afford to expose New Yorkers to harm for a misguided political ideology.”

Sen. Tom Croci. Photo courtesy of the New York State Senate

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, as of November 2017, there are eight sanctuary communities in New York state. Counties include Franklin, Nassau, Onondaga, St. Lawrence and Wayne. the cities of Albany, Ithaca and New York are also on the list.

Anu Joshi, the director of immigration policy for the New York Immigration Coalition, says that the bill is misguided. She maintains that sanctuary cities are about allowing police to allocate resources rather than impeding federal law.

She says local communities have the right to determine how police resources are used. Joshi says that they help strengthen relationships with officers.

“Sanctuary policies or confidentiality policies are important to ensure that all communities feel safe,” Joshi said.

The Assembly bill, sponsored by Dean Murray, R-East Patchogue, was referred to the Governmental Operations on January 3.

The chair of that committee, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, like the New York Immigration Coalition, says the bill is misguided.

I’m not a big fan of the bill,” Peoples-Stokes said.

She says the bill makes the unfair assumption that immigrants are bad when, in reality, they are just seeking sanctuary. Peoples-Stokes also says the bill takes away local government decision making.

She doesn’t anticipate any movement on the bill any time soon and added that bills aimed at helping immigrants assimilate, such as the Dream Act, are more popular in her house.

“What is the basis for assuming that immigrants are dangerous,”  she asked.