Friday, February 10, 2017

Hudson Rallies for Sanctuary City Resolution

In December, the Hudson City Democratic Committee (HCDC) passed a resolution urging the City of Hudson to prioritize the safety of our community over arbitrary immigration enforcement. The HCDC policy recommendation includes a city commitment:
  • not to ask for proof of citizenship or use racial profiling; 
  • not to actively report local law enforcement issues to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); 
  • to limit city resources for immigration enforcement and detention to cases ordered by a state or federal judge.
Nationwide, cities have adopted similar policies to become “Sanctuary Cities.” This movement predates the current federal administration, but the White House’s open hostility to immigrants has intensified the urgency for cities and states to adopt formal policies. As more places adopt resolutions, the topic has been increasingly discussed at the state and national level.

The February 7 detention of a Hudson man led to widespread local alarm, demonstrating that our community has deep concern for its immigrants. It also showed strong support for the city playing a role in protecting them. A clear, transparent Sanctuary City policy would address those needs.

Since the December HCDC resolution, there have been three Common Council meetings and two events on the sanctuary topic, all well attended.


On January 9, in an informal Common Council meeting, Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga, D-2nd Ward and HCDC member, introduced the topic for discussion. “The Council has previously passed resolutions supporting immigrants,” Garriga said. She also noted that many other cities have sanctuary resolutions, including New York City and Albany. The crowd in attendance spilled into the hallway, and many people spoke and applauded in favor of Hudson adopting a sanctuary city policy. For more on this meeting, see Register-Star, Gossips of Rivertown, and Dan Udell video.


On January 10, nearby Kingston, NY adopted a Sanctuary City resolution. The Kingston Freeman noted that the resolution was fueled by concern that fear of deportation would prevent undocumented immigrants from calling police and other emergency personnel when the need arises.

On January 19, NY Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued legal guidance for cities in NY State to become sanctuary cities. The document is a follow-up to a December 2, 2014 letter to police chiefs and sheriffs clarifying that immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility and is voluntary for local and state government. (For more on this subject, see the Washington Post and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center.)

In addition to the legal arguments, Schneiderman’s 2017 guidance provides a “legal roadmap for improving public safety by protecting vulnerable communities.” It provides local governments with model laws and policies very similar to the HCDC recommendations.

On January 25, President Donald Trump issued a vaguely worded executive order to “Ensure that jurisdictions that fail to comply with applicable Federal law do not receive Federal funds, except as mandated by law.” Schneiderman quickly responded: “The President lacks the constitutional authority to cut off funding to states and cities simply because they have lawfully acted to protect immigrant families...Local governments seeking to protect their immigrant communities from federal overreach have every right to do so.”

Darla Cameron writes in the Washington Post: “Experts are skeptical that Trump could fulfill his campaign pledge to eliminate all federal funding from sanctuary localities, citing a Supreme Court ruling that funding can only be withheld if it is relevant ‘to the federal interest in the project.’ Cities, counties and states with sanctuary policies get federal money from dozens of different departments, most of which are not related to immigration.”

On February 6, the New York State Assembly passed a Sanctuary State resolution. The Republican-controlled State Senate is unlikely to pass the resolution.


Dialogue continued at the January 23 Police Committee meeting. As at the previous meeting, the crowd overflowed the meeting space, and audience members spoke in favor of a sanctuary resolution. Police Chief Edward Moore explained current policy, which closely mirrors the HCDC sanctuary city proposal. Over the past three years, according to Chief Moore, the Hudson Police Department has had six contacts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), one of which led to the issuance of a warrant for a violent person. “Very little Hudson police resources are expended on ICE cases,” Moore noted.

Moore expressed concerns about codifying the current police practice for fear of violating the Constitution and federal law. These concerns, while reasonable, show how vital it is to clarify that state and local police forces are not obligated to enforce ICE detention orders. Moreover, state and local forces may be found to have unlawfully detained people if they obey an ICE order without a judge’s warrant because they are doing so out of choice, not obligation. ICE itself should have “probable cause” to detain anyone or to issue a detainer request, but they don’t always--they may be engaged in profiling. Anyone, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to 4th Amendment rights against unlawful arrest and detention.

According to Moore’s description, Hudson police behavior has, to date, aligned with the respectful and protective stance that a Sanctuary City would provide. At the meeting, Moore stated that our city has had a reduction in crime under the current informal policy.

National data points to similar Sanctuary City success stories. According to the Center for American Progress, The Major Cities Chiefs Association found that combining the work of local police with federal immigration enforcement efforts “would result in increased crime against immigrants and in the broader community, create a class of silent victims and eliminate the potential for assistance from immigrants in solving crimes or preventing future terroristic acts.”

The January 25 Executive Order included instructions to hire 10,000 additional immigration officers and to approach local police departments to enter into immigration enforcement “agreements.” The city’s current practice aligns closely with sanctuary principles, but without an official policy that pledges continuation of that behavior, both the police department and the community of Hudson may become unwittingly trapped under draconian and hard-to-interpret rules as a malicious anti-immigrant federal policy is endorsed and approved. A formal Sanctuary City policy would demonstrate to city residents that police resources are being used in an appropriate manner--focusing on safety issues rather than immigration enforcement. For more on this meeting, see Register-Star, Gossips of Rivertown, and Dan Udell video.


On January 25, the Legal Committee discussed the Sanctuary City resolution. Again, a crowd of supporters overflowed the room. The Legal Committee expressed support for a resolution and committed to drafting a resolution for further discussion at the next Legal Committee meeting on February 22.


HCDC is working with the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement to support and protect all members of our community regardless of immigration status. The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement sponsored two recent events, Migration Is Beautiful and Vigil for Solidarity.


The January 27 Executive Order banned U.S. entry to people from seven Muslim majority countries and a 120-day ban on acceptance of any refugees. Trump may attempt expand the ban to more countries, and has threatened to significantly increase internal deportations, separating families and harrying communities. As Michael Chameides, HCDC Chair, has noted: “Immigrants bring tremendous value to our city economically and culturally, and it’s important to recognize that immigration enforcement doesn’t improve our city, it distracts from other priorities. A witch hunt won’t just harm immigrants. It will harm everyone.” Though at date of publication a temporary stay on the order had been granted, a legal battle is underway, with the possibility that the executive branch’s policy regarding immigrants and refugees will shift at a moment’s notice.


We need broad-based support to pass meaningful protections for immigrants in Hudson. Here are three easy steps: