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NYSNYS NEWS: Outside of NYC, no legal barriers in NY to cooperation with Trump plan to deport up to 3 million illegal immigrants in U.S. with criminal past.
NYSNYS News
By Kyle Hughes
NYSNYS News


ALBANY, N.Y. (November 18) -- With one big exception, there are no legal barriers to authorities in New York cooperating with President-elect Donald Trump's plans to step up the deportation of illegal immigrants after he takes office in January.

The glaring exception is NYC, the only place in New York that appears to have a "Sanctuary City" law that mandates non-cooperation with immigration officials in routine non-criminal cases, though measures have been talked about in the past in Albany, Ithaca and other communities.

Immigration groups that have identified Rensselaer, Saratoga and other counties around the state as sanctuary localities are putting out incorrect information about whether they will honor federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainee orders, officials said this week.

"If the detainer is legitimate and the person is here illegally, we will detain that person until such time as ICE removes them," Rensselaer County Undersheriff Edward Bly said Thursday. "Somehow they took that in a context that we weren't going to honor ICE detainers. That's absolutely not true."

The Saratoga County Sheriff's Office also said it honors ICE warrants. "We are aware that we are listed as a sanctuary county which is not true," a spokesman for Saratoga County Sheriff Michael Zurlo said this week. "We are in the process of taking steps to get removed from that list."

Others counties identified as "non-cooperative" with ICE by the Center for Immigration Studies include Franklin, St. Lawrence, Wayne, Onondaga, Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Washington, D.C., think tank describes itself as "low-immigration, pro-immigrant."

A spokesperson for the group was not immediately available for comment Thursday. Both Saratoga and Rensselaer counties have told the group to remove the incorrect information from their website.

The NYS Sheriffs' Association said Thursday some confusion may have arisen a result of federal court rulings that said detainees cannot be held because of their immigration status without a legal warrant.

"It's my understanding that sheriffs and all other law enforcement are still in close cooperation with ICE, so that now they ... give ICE advance warning when they are about to release someone ICE may have an interested in if they are aware of that knowledge," said Alex Wilson, associate counsel with the Sheriffs' Association. "They won't need to detain anybody. ICE will just be there to pick someone up if they have an outstanding immigration problem once they are released from a jail or (state) prison."

In 2014, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city council enacted a law to prohibit the transfer of custody to ICE unless the prisoner is named in a warrant, is on a terrorist watch list, or has a violent criminal record.

The new law replaced an old system where city jailers alerted ICE as soon as an immigrant was in police custody. The federal agents determined whether to begin deportation proceedings.

The issue of immigration helped propel Trump to victory on November 8. Since then, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio have sounded warnings about any efforts to curtail immigration or deport people who are here.

Two days after the election, Cuomo suggested he would take steps to stymie Trump's deportation push.

"If any immigrant feels that they are under attack, I want them to know that the state of New York – the state that has the Statue of Liberty in its harbor – is their refuge... We won’t allow a federal government that attacks immigrants in our state," Cuomo said during a stop in Syracuse. "We are a state of immigrants."

Trump says he wants to deport 2-3 million immigrants nationally who have criminal backgrounds. It is not clear how many of those reside in New York, where 22 percent of the population is foreign born.

More than a third of NYC residents are foreign born and one estimate says that about 10 percent of the city's workforce are undocumented immigrants.

Immigrants have also moved into upstate cities and communities as the region emptied out jobs and population over the past 20 years.

In March, the region of upstate from Syracuse to Buffalo was selected as one of 20 communities around the nation to be funded by Gateways for Growth Challenge, a program to encourage foreign immigration to the region. The program is part of the Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund, a pro-immigration group formed in 2010 by Rupert Murdoch and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The group's goals include permitting undocumented immigrants now here become legal residents or citizens.

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