N.Y. Attorney General’s Guidance To Police To Protect Immigrants Welcomed

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Anticipating potential changes in federal immigration enforcement practices and priorities following President Donald Trump’s assumption of power, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has provided local governments and law enforcement agencies with a legal roadmap to protect vulnerable immigrant communities last week.

As part of that roadmap announced Jan. 19, Schneiderman also provided local governments with model laws and policies that, if voluntarily enacted by a local government, would codify “sanctuary” policies into local law.

The announcement by Schneiderman, a Democrat, was welcomed by several officials, including mayors of various New York townships and cities, including NYC.

“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,” Nisha Agarwal, Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said.

In recent years, several cities across New York State, including Syracuse and New York City, have successfully adopted such policies.

The model provisions offered by the attorney general’s civil rights bureau clarified that local New York law enforcement agencies can limit their participation in federal immigration enforcement activities in several ways. They may refuse to enforce non-judicial civil immigration warrants issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, protect New Yorkers’ Fourth Amendment rights by denying federal requests to hold uncharged individuals in custody more than 48 hours and limit access of ICE agents to individuals currently in custody, among others.

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

“The legal guidance and model policies my office released today give local governments the tools they need to protect immigrant communities from any over-reach by federal agencies. New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants and embracing diversity. Now, more than ever, we must stand up for our values of inclusion and pluralism,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

In addition to protecting vulnerable communities and promoting public safety, the model procedures would also insulate local authorities from potential legal liability arising out of Fourth Amendment (unlawful detention) claims and ensure that local governments are not forced to spend limited local resources on increased federal immigration enforcement efforts that do not improve public safety.

After the election and amid a rise in hate incidents across the nation, the Attorney General issued an urgent bulletin to local law enforcement officials statewide to provide guidance in identifying and prosecuting hate crimes.

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