Astorino’s Immigration Act Veto is a Threat to Public Safety of the Immigrant Community

Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recently vetoed the Westchester County Immigration act that the legislature’s passed on Aug. 7.

Despite the dog whistle Politics from the County Executive office saying the bill will result in sanctuary city status is further from the truth.

The intent of the bill limits information given to immigration and limits the assistance of police officers and restrict questioning of someone’s immigration status. The bill also keeps the County Department of Corrections from holding undocumented inmates for immigration without a judicial warrant.

The bill never restricts or inhibits Immigration from doing their job. It restricts the involvement of county resources and personnel from assisting.

Communities all across America are facing ICE raids as a result of President Trump’s Executive Order. There are reports that many Immigrants are picked up as “collateral arrest” after they opened their doors to agents who were not there to specifically arrest them.

Federal Judge James M. Munley of the Central Pennsylvania District has emphasized illegal immigrants had the same civil rights as legal immigrants and citizens.

The presumption of the 14th Amendment that guarantees Due Process (is the principle that the government must respect all of a person’s legal rights, instead of just some or most of those legal rights), and Equal Protection under the law (no state shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws) can be set aside while migrants are hunted down and punished is widespread but false.

Judge Munley argues that “We cannot say clearly enough persons who enter this country without legal authorization are not stripped immediately of all their rights because of this single illegal act.”

Furthermore, President Trump’s new executive order lacks any independent review as to whether or not it is causing increased racial profiling or civil rights violations. Even though there have been many complaints already of racial profiling in Southern California in Santa Paula, Oxnard, Van Nuys, and San Bernardino.

Separately, a former Obama administration ICE official said that administration “targeted felons,” and noted that under the Trump administration, the enforcement priorities laid out in his interior executive order were much broader and could include a wider range of targets than the Obama administration’s enforcement priorities.

County Law Enforcement officials, who claim that their law enforcement efforts would be hampered by the bill must have missed the memo from the Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force.

A group of 63 police chiefs and sheriffs from around the country, who formed a Law Enforcement Immigration Task Force in 2015, issued a memo saying they do not want their officers acting as federal immigration officers and they do not want to lose federal funding if their cities and counties are defined as immigrant “sanctuaries.”

The memo is in line with the issues of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents 63 large police departments. It notes that “federal court decisions have found federal immigration detainers violate the Constitution” because they are not criminal warrants, which causes many departments and jails to release undocumented immigrants from custody even if an immigration detainer has been filed for them.

The memo also made clear that “there is no set definition of what comprises a ‘sanctuary jurisdiction’ and the term is often defined much too broadly.”

The memo was submitted to the members of the Senate and is signed by the chiefs of Orlando, Houston, Boston, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles County as well as smaller jurisdictions such as Marshalltown, Iowa, and Garden City, Kan.

As a  representative of a national association of Law Enforcement Professionals, our organization opinion is in line with the many of the Big City Police Chiefs across the nation. Not having protectives will keep people from reporting crimes and undermine police and community relationships.

For the County Executive and others to express their concerns about the loss of federal funds if the Westchester Immigration Act is passed,  is nothing but political rhetoric. Astorino did not care about losing federal funds when he opposed the HUD settlement.

Astorino did not care about the loss of three years’ worth of HUD block grant funding, totalling $17.4 million until the county submitted a version HUD found acceptable. In September 2013, HUD permanently pulled $7.4 million of those funds, but the County Executive continued to stand his ground even writing a Wall Street Journal op-ed .  Astorino asked the question to the reader:  “Do you think it is a good idea to give the Department of Housing and Urban Development unchecked power to put an apartment building in your neighbourhood?”

Why didn’t Astorino care about losing the federal grants then? Why wouldn’t Astorino think that ICE is having unchecked power with Trumps Immigration policy now?  Block Grant funds are usually used to benefit lower-income communities. Community improvements, social programs, such as law enforcement, community development, and health services are service that needs much assistance in lower income communities in Westchester.  Astorino tenure as County Executive has shown that anything that hurts minority and communities of colour he supports. Anything that helps minority and communities of colour he creates false narratives to reject.

I applaud the Westchester District Attorney Anthony Scarpino Jr. creation of Office of Immigrant Affairs but that is a band-aid on an issue that can only be healed through county legislation.

Our elected officials should want people to report crimes no matter if they’re a victim, witness, regardless of their immigration status. A veto of this legislation from Westchester County Executive Astorino is a slap in the face to the true meaning of community policing and will endanger the public safety of the immigrant community.