Ulster exec signs “non-cooperation” order to passively resist immigration enforcement


KINGSTON – Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan signed his second executive order Wednesday, instructing county employees under his authority to follow “new operating procedures that are designed to halt cooperation with federal immigration officials, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers.”

The policy avoids controversial “Sanctuary” language, opting for the less politically loaded “Protect Rights of All Residents,” and “Ensuring Justice for All.” According to definition, “sanctuary” refers to municipal jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with the national government’s effort to enforce immigration law.

“In light of statements and threats coming out of Washington D.C., we are here to make a clear unequivocal statement about our values as a county, and our values as a community. We reject division, we reject fear-mongering, we reject xenophobia,” Ryan said.

The policy move comes on the heels of a two-week deadline, announced last Saturday, delaying the expected mass deportations involving 2,000 families residing in major U.S. cities. President Donald Trump said the pause was granted at the request of congressional Democrats.

“We stand for justice for every single person and resident of this county. We embrace diversity, and we recognize that in our diversity there is tremendous strength and value. We welcome anyone and everyone who wants to join and be a part of our community here in Ulster County,” Ryan said.

Joining Ryan was Sheriff Juan Figueroa, who reiterated that local law enforcement never had jurisdiction over immigration matters. “I am here today in support of our county executive, and in support of the Constitution,” he said, citing the 14th Amendment.

“The entire case of undocumented immigrants being covered and protected by the Constitution has been settled law for over 100 years, and rests on one word, ‘person.’ It is the word ‘person’ that connects the dots of due process and equal protection,” Figueroa maintained.

“You cannot and may not call yourself a decent and good human being, or lay claim to being a person of any authentic faith, with the possible exception of a Satanic cult, and either cause children to suffer, or stand by idly in the face of the suffering of a child, as if that child’s suffering, was someone else’s concern,” noted Father Frank Alagna, Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church and Ulster Immigrant Defense Network.

President Trump had issued a Twitter message on June 17, “Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States.” Trump and contends that the suffering at the southern border has gone on for decades, and his administration got elected in part vowing to remedy the situation with stronger border policies.

“They will be removed as fast as they come in,” Trump continued, adding that economic sanction threats resulted in 15,000 Mexican troops deployed to combat northbound caravans. “Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement,” Trump indicated.

“The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of the loopholes, and fix asylum. If so, Border Crisis will end quickly,” Trump declared, in an ultimatum to Congress – which, if not met, will launch more domestic ICE raids.

Figueroa said that ICE does not inform his department of impending raids. “They do not. They don’t tell us when they’re coming or going. They don’t have to inform local government or law enforcement at all, they don’t have to,” he explained.

“That’s definitely an interesting question, we get phone calls, and my job as a conservator of the peace, is to make sure that the rights of our citizens are protected. With that said, they also have a job, and I cannot intervene in their actual job. We, as a local entity, can’t get involved in that,” the Sheriff said, adding that if ICE was breaking the law, “we’d ask them to leave, and I’d guarantee you, they probably would leave,” he said.

“We are part of the United States of America, we are part of the federal government; we have a federal government that we elect and vote, if you don’t like the laws, change the folks that are in office, and change the laws. We cannot sit here and say we will go against the federal government, because as you know, that just doesn’t make sense,” Figueroa said.

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