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‘Legal Roadmap’ for New York Sanctuary Cities to Protect Immigrants Announced

On his first day in the White House, President Donald Trump is preparing to sign executive actions, which may include countering current immigration policies.

“He is committed to not just Day 1, but Day 2, Day 3 of enacting an agenda of real change, and I think that you’re going to see that in the days and weeks to come,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on Thursday, telling reporters to expect activity on Friday, during the weekend and early next week.

Local governments can have a say in the carrying out of federal immigration enforcement practices, according to Eric Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general. On Thursday, Schneiderman’s office provided local governments and law enforcement agencies with what is described as a “legal roadmap” to protect vulnerable immigrant communities.

The policy states local governments can limit participation in federal immigration enforcement activities in several ways, including:

1) Refusing to enforce non-judicial civil immigration warrants issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

2) Protecting New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights by denying federal requests to hold uncharged individuals in custody more than 48 hours

3) Limiting information gathering and reporting that will be used exclusively for federal immigration enforcement

4) Limiting access of ICE and CBP agents to individuals currently in custody

Schneiderman points out that local law enforcement agencies are not required to enforce federal immigration laws or even provide immigration status to ICE or customs officials about suspects in custody, except under limited circumstances.

The full policy guidance can be found here.

“Public safety relies on trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “No local law enforcement agency should have to undercut that trust just to carry out Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies.”

In addition to attempting to protect vulnerable communities and promoting public safety, he said the model procedures would also protect local authorities from potential legal liability arising out of Fourth Amendment (unlawful detention) claims.

The procedures also aim to ensure local governments are not forced to spend limited local resources on increased federal immigration enforcement efforts that do not improve public safety.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has called the state a place of refuge. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio supports Schneiderman’s guidelines.

“In New York City we know how vital our nearly 3 million immigrant community members are,” Nisha Agarwal, commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said. “Mayor de Blasio and I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman for recognizing widespread local interest in building safe, healthy, and inclusive cities for everyone, including immigrant residents.”

Rochester, N.Y., was declared a sanctuary city in 1986 by the city council. The mayor, Lovely Warren, said she intends to ask the current council to bring the resolution up-to-date to include Schneiderman’s recommendations.

“As an African American woman and the child of an immigrant, I am keenly aware of what discrimination feels like, and equally aware that it has no place or part in the ‘American Dream,’” Warren said.

“Rochester is the home of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony, so the fight for inclusion and equality is nothing new to us … I want to make it clear that in Rochester we are one community that is united and strengthened by our diversity.”

Cities including Syracuse, Albany, Kingston and White Plains also plan on taking Schneiderman’s advice.

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