The bi-partisan measure passed by a vote of 11-3. It was supported by all of the chamber’s 12 Democrats, but two were absent from the meeting for reasons unrelated to the vote, which is reflected in the vote total. It also was supported by Yonkers Republican David J. Tubiolo.
The legislation is not a sanctuary bill, but defines what county law enforcement can ask about a person’s citizenship or immigration status and what information the county will share with federal officials.
The Westchester County Departments of Public Safety, Corrections and Probation all supported the legislation and agreed that it will protect all people without violating the law.
“We have made history tonight by passing the Immigration Protection Act, which enhances safety in Westchester County by increasing trust and cooperation between county employees, particularly law enforcement, and all residents,” said County Legislator Catherine Borgia, District 9 – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill, chair of the Board’s Budget & Appropriations Committee.
“I am very grateful to all of the members of the large bipartisan coalition that helped bring this Act to passage after a year of extensive research and negotiation. Special thanks to my colleagues on the Board, particularly former Legislator Jim Maisano; the Law Enforcement and Social Service commissioners and union members; the Latimer administration including County Attorney John Nonna; the Westchester Chapter of the NY Immigration Coalition; the New York State Attorney General’s office; and advocacy groups such as A Better Road NY, Neighbors Link, and the many citizen groups who kept this issue in the forefront of our agenda. I am very proud of the work we did together to ensure justice and equal protection for all Westchester residents.”
Legislator Virginia Perez, District 17-Yonkers, chair of the Legislation Committee, said, “We all have heard the story that immigrants come to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream. Targeting them simply because of their immigration status while disregarding their contributions to this country not only is wrong, but also unbecoming of a society like ours. As a Hispanic immigrant, I am proud to have been one of the lawmakers to bring this great legislation to fruition. I hope that it will help alleviate any fear of law enforcement in our communities and allow hard working immigrant families to continue their pursuit of the American Dream safely.”
Chair of the Board of Legislators Ben Boykin, District 5 – White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison, said, “I applaud my colleagues for the passage of the Immigration Protection Act. Moving this legislation, which had been thwarted by the prior County Executive, was a priority for the new Board and I commend all those who were involved in crafting this latest version. The Immigration Protection Act will foster the safety of all of the County’s residents by removing any trepidation some in the community might have about their interactions with the County’s law enforcement agencies and I’m proud that we’ve been able to craft something that has the full support of both advocates for the immigrant community and the County Departments responsible for public safety, corrections and probation.”
An earlier version of the measure was vetoed by then-County Executive Rob Astorino.
Majority Leader Catherine Parker, District 7 – Harrison, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, New Rochelle, Rye, said, “The passage of an Immigration Protection Act is important to most residents of Westchester who value public safety and due process. During last year’s election we know it was a factor in their decision of who to support. I thank my colleagues, especially Legislator Catherine Borgia, for her work with our public safety and law enforcement departments, as well as advocates, in creating policy that protects all concerned.”
Legislators were joined by advocates, union members and immigrant advocacy groups for a rally before the vote Monday night.
Carola Otero Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbors Link, said of the legislation: “Neighbors Link considers the Immigration Protection Act to be a crucial element for the safety of the entire community, and we are deeply gratified that the Westchester County Legislature has passed this measure. We are proud to stand with the Legislators and coalition of supporters and advocates who made it happen.”
Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said: “Strong, safe communities depend on good relations between law enforcement and locals. Today, Westchester became the first county in the state to put public safety first for all residents, regardless of immigration status. We applaud Legislator Borgia for her leadership, and eagerly await County Executive George Latimer’s signature to turn this crucial legislation into law.”
Alfreda A. Williams, Vice Chair, District 8 – Elmsford, Greenburgh, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown, said: “I’m a first-generation immigration and I am delighted that we’re going to have some meaningful protections for immigrants in Westchester County.”
MaryJane Shimksy, Majority Whip, District 12 – Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington, said: “This legislation is good law enforcement, pure and simple. To fight crime, our local police must be able to obtain information from everyone in our communities. If people who are immigrants, or who live in neighborhoods with immigrants, avoid contact with local police because they see them as auxiliaries of ICE, it will become more difficult to combat crime. Such an atmosphere of fear risks endangering us all.”
Lyndon Williams, District 13 – Mount Vernon, said: “County law enforcement agencies must resist cooperating with invidious federal immigration policies that discriminate against foreign-born residents who have not been convicted of any crimes but are targeted and rounded-up based on the color of their skin or the language they speak. This law does not stop ICE agents from arresting criminals or taking serious offenders into custody at the County jail, but prevents local law enforcement agencies from engaging in discriminatory oppressive tactics that terrorize innocent families and discourage residents from cooperating in solving local crimes.”
Kitley S. Covill, District 2 – Bedford, Lewisboro, Mount Kisco, North Salem, Pound Ridge, Somers, said: “I am proud to vote yes for the Immigration Protection Act. Many of my colleagues, together with law enforcement, worked very hard to get to this day. This law shows that Westchester welcomes diversity and inclusion and we stand with that philosophy.”
Nancy E. Barr, District 6 – Harrison, Port Chester, Rye Brook, said: “I am extremely pleased to be a sponsor of the Immigration Protection Act. Immigrants enrich our communities and help drive our economy. This is especially true in my district, in the Village of Port Chester, which has a vibrant immigrant community. But now, residents are afraid of ICE raids and families are being ripped apart. We can draw a line and say that Westchester resources will not be used to encourage these atrocities. This legislation also helps strengthen public safety for all Westchester residents since communities are less safe when residents are afraid to report crime or work with the police to maintain law and order.”
Damon R. Maher, District 10 – Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe, said: “Showing respect to our immigrant community was one of our campaign principles in the last election. This legislation delivers.”
Christopher A. Johnson, District 16 – Yonkers, said: “I’m excited that Westchester is taking a stand to support the safety, security and comfort of all Westchester residents. Immigrants have always been and will continue to be a part of the fabric of our country.”
The measure now goes to new County Executive George Latimer for his signature.