Tuesday, August 8, 2017

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Westchester lawmakers approve local immigration law


Democrat Virginia Perez (podium) "No one knows the fears and struggles ... like
another immigrant" (Facebook)

WHITE PLAINS – By a 10 to five vote, the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted Monday to approve a county immigration law.

Lawmakers who support the measure said it is not a sanctuary city bill, but rather one that protects everyone.

Opponents said it would tie the hands of law enforcement to do their job protecting the public.

In part, the measure reads:

The County of Westchester shall not utilize County monies, facilities, property, equipment, or personnel to investigate, enforce, or assist in the investigation or enforcement of any federal program requiring registration of individuals on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

§ 2. (i) No County officer or employee may respond affirmatively to a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) or Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) request for non-public information about an individual-including but not limited to non-public information about an individual’s release from the custody of the Department of Public Safety or the Department of Corrections, home address, or work address, unless the request is accompanied by a judicial warrant.


County Legislator Virginia Perez, a native of the Dominican Republic, said, “No one knows the fear and struggles of an immigrant like another immigrant, and that is exactly what I am, a Hispanic immigrant, and a proud one.”

She talked of the difficulty her parents had in becoming US citizens including being ripped off by someone who scammed them out of thousands of dollars.

“Because of their fear of having our family ripped apart, that crime went unreported. I remember my parents crying and having no one to talk to. I remember feeling helpless and hopeless,” she said. “I couldn’t help my parents back then, but by supporting this act, I am going to help many, many immigrant parents now.”

Legislator Benjamin Boykin said the measure addresses a public safety issue.

“Unless you are a Native American,” we are all immigrants,” Kenneth Jenkins noted.

But, Legislator James Maisano opposed the bill saying it does not do what it was intended to do.

Another opponent, Gordon Burrows said it is not needed and not necessary and he said the county stands to lose as much as $13 million if the Trump Administration withholds funding as a result of its passage.

“Immigrants are welcomed into this county; immigrants are valued. This county treats people the way I think people should be treated,” he said. “We are not talking about other communities around the country.”

Opponents noted county law enforcement officials and the Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association oppose the measure. County Executive Robert Astorino promised to veto the bill when it reaches his desk.

 


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