Immigrants and Advocates: NYS Proposed legislation jeopardizes relationship between immigrants and local law enforcement

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org Christiaan Perez, Manager of Advocacy and Digital Strategy 212-739-7581 or cperez@latinojustice.org

HAUPPAUGE, NY- Immigrant families and advocates held a Press Conference on Wednesday to express concerns about a NYS bill that will jeopardize important improvements in the relationship between immigrant communities and the police, and will make immigrants fearful to report crimes.

This bill (S6032), sponsored by New York State Senator Tom Croci, is aimed to prohibit law enforcement agencies to limit collaboration with Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE), a federal agency, regarding the detention of undocumented immigrants.

However, the legislation contradicts recent policies adopted just a year ago in both, Suffolk County and Nassau County, concerning the detention of undocumented immigrants. The head of the Sheriff’s department in each county decided to stop a request from ICE, to detain and hold undocumented immigrants for more time that they were supposed to, unless a warrant is presented. The decision was made after Federal Courts in other States concluded that local law enforcement did not have the obligation to comply with that request.

Moreover, this legislation is misinformed and unconstitutional as it violates people’s rights to due process, which means that no person should be imprisoned unless there is a warrant for his/her arrest or a review of his/her case by a judge. Other jurisdictions around the country have also recognized that holding a person without a warrant is illegal and have stopped ICE’s request.

After the press conference advocates and a constituent from Senator Croci’s district went to the Senator’s office to deliver a letter of disapproval in regards to his bill but the Senator refused to accept the letter in person.

“Cities and municipalities have taken progressive measures to integrate immigrants into their communities as a result of congressional gridlock to enact any type of meaningful legislation. S6032 seeks to roll back these advances and return us to the dark days where several Long Island elected officials engaged in anti-immigrant and xenophobic vitriol, which poisoned the discourse around the topic of immigration. This anti-immigrant climate led to a series of highly publicized hate crime attacks culminating in the November 2008 murder of Marcello Lucero. S6032 sends the wrong message about who we are as a country, and the important role immigrants play in contributing to and strengthening our communities,” said Jose Perez, Deputy General Counsel of Latino Justice PRLDEF.

“Creating a bill that deliberately undermines public safety by undoing the progress that local jurisdictions have made to break the link between local law enforcement and immigration enforcement should concern all community members, not just the immigrant community," said Maryann Sinclair Slutsky, executive director, Long Island Wins.

“Senator Croci should not be stirring up fear against immigrants. He is exploiting the current anti-immigrant tone of some national politicians to raise his own profile at the expense of his Latino constituents. In so doing he creates a danger of alienating immigrants from the police, putting everyone in danger,” said Pat Young, Program Director at CARECEN.

Jason Starr, Nassau Chapter Director/interim Suffolk County Chapter Director, New York Civil Liberties Union, said: “A fundamental principle of our democracy is the right to due process. This means that no person should be imprisoned unless there is a warrant for his arrest or a review of his case by a judge. Sheriffs’ departments across the country, including right here in Suffolk County, have recognized that holding a person without a warrant is illegal and have refused to do so. Senator Croci’s so-called Sanctuary City bill would require local law enforcement to violate the Constitution and seriously threatens public safety by undermining the ability of communities to trust the police, making us all less safe. This bill sends a message to the thousands of immigrant families on Long Island that they are not equal under the law. Senator Croci took an oath to support the Constitution, and we must hold him accountable to that.”

“The S6032 “NY CARES Act” is yet another divisive and misleading anti-immigrant proposal that will only foster distrust amongst communities living in New York State,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The NYIC has long supported allies and partners’ in our collective efforts to ensure that there are trusting relationships between immigrant communities and local law enforcement in counties like Suffolk. But this bill does not allow for that, instead, it continues to perpetuate hateful rhetoric that scapegoats immigrants. We call on the New York Senate and all our State legislators to vote against this bill.”

Dulce Rojas, from SEPA Mujer said: "The proposal of Croci's Bill S6032 would undo all the progress we have done to build trust between the police and the community. This is especially dangerous for our members of SEPA Mujer, most of whom are victims of domestic violence and know all too well the fear of calling the police. Now they will fear deportation, separation of their families and children and the trust with the police will be broken altogether. We must work hard to make sure this trust does not break for the sake of thousands of families and the immigrant community who depend on their protection just like any other community member of Long Island, New York."

Victoria Daza, organizer from Long Island Jobs with Justice said: “The 'No Sanctuary Cities' bill that Senator Croci is proposing would take away local law enforcement's autonomy to work with their local communities by attacking their funding. This would be a gigantic setback to building trust between immigrant communities and police, and contribute to a growing climate of xenophobia. There is nothing safe about this legislation."

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