Immigrant Groups Call-Out Astorino for Vetoing Immigrant Protection Act

August 16th, 2017

Vow to reverse in over-ride vote and put Westchester on the "right side of history"

County Executive Rob Astorino today vetoed the Immigrant Protection Act which would protect residents' confidential information, regardless of immigration status, and save limited county resources. Last week, the Westchester County Board of Legislators voted 10-5 last week to approve the legislation, with one absent lawmaker; 12 votes are now needed to override a veto. The over-ride vote is scheduled for September 25th.

The Westchester Immigrant Protection Act, which had bipartisan support and fully complies with federal law, regulates the voluntary cooperation between county agencies and federal immigration agents, and ensures that local law enforcement cannot act as federal immigration officials.

“Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino today decided to march in lockstep with President Trump's hateful, anti-immigrant policies. Astorino had no problem fighting the federal government on Westchester housing policy, but he’s willing to rollover on immigration and our basic constitutional rights. Fortunately, the County Legislature has an opportunity to be on the right side of history and reverse this veto on September 25th. Until then, we will continue to work with our members and partners to protect the rights and dignity of all people in New York," said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

"County Executive Rob Astorino has mischaracterized this legislation as a sanctuary law and has vetoed it. We are disappointed that he has chosen to willfully disregard the voice of the majority of legislators and by extension, their constituents who support this bill. This legislation is necessary to assist local law enforcement and protect public safety. It also prohibits the county from redirecting its limited resources to federal immigration priorities. With this legislation our county is moving in the right direction. The county executive has sacrificed progress in the name of partisan politics," Carola Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbors Link added.

"We are disappointed by County Executive Robert Astorino's decision to veto the Westchester County Immigrant Protection Act. In a time when we need our local leaders to counter the fear the Trump administration is sowing in our communities, Astorino has refused to stand up for Westchester residents, " said Jessica Young, Esq., Supervising Attorney, Westchester Hispanic Coalition. "This Act encourages all crime victims and witnesses to come forward to make our communities safer and stronger. We now urge our elected legislators on both sides of the aisle to come together and override Astorino's veto."

"There two things the Immigration Protection Act sought to accomplish: one, was to protect that vast majority of unauthorized immigrants--who have otherwise been upstanding citizens obeying the law, working hard, contributing to our society and many of whom live in mixed status families with children who are American citizens. And two, to build trust between law enforcement and other County agencies and immigrants so that when conflicts occur, they will be comfortable reaching out for assistance," said Jirandy Martinez, Community Resource Center. "There is nothing in this Act that would have made it more difficult for police to do their job of protecting us. But the evidence is that the administration is casting a far wider net and fear that this is so, has created panic in the immigrant community hindering trust in local police. This Act would make Westchester more safe, and we do not understand your decision to veto it."

"Thousands of immigrants in Westchester, regardless of their immigration status, are working jobs, enriching our communities, and providing a future for their families, We are here to keep our families together and safe. We don't represent a danger to public safety. Public safety is when we feel free of fear and when we can confidently call the police to report abuses and crimes. Mr. Astorino has turned his back on the immigrant community and is not on the side of what is just and necessary in times of attacks against our community. We are going to resist," said Luis Yumbla, Interim Executive Director, Hudson Valley Community Coalition.

Studies have long shown that immigrants are more reluctant to report crime when they fear that police are acting as immigration agents. The Trump administration’s indiscriminate and aggressive immigration crackdown has led to dramatic decreases in crime reporting among immigrants across the country. This decrease makes criminals harder to catch, endangering the safety of all local residents.

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The New York Immigration Coalition is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for nearly 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.The NYIC aims to achieve a fairer and more just society that values the contributions of immigrants and extends opportunity to all by promoting immigrants’ full civic participation, fostering their leadership, and providing a unified voice and a vehicle for collective action for New York’s diverse immigrant communities.