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Cities receive guidance on sanctuary immigration policies

January 19, 2017 By Deepti Hajela Associated Press
New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File
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New York state’s attorney general on Thursday issued guidance to local governments on how they can put laws and policies in place to limit their participation in federal immigration enforcement activities under Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

The guidance from Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says local law enforcement agencies can take several steps. Those steps include refusing to enforce non-judicial civil immigration warrants, denying requests from federal officials to hold onto people in custody who haven’t been charged for more than 48 hours, limiting immigration enforcement agents’ access to people already in custody and limiting the gathering and reporting of information like someone’s immigration status.

Schneiderman said public safety depends on trust between law enforcement and communities.

“No local law enforcement agency should have to undercut that trust just to carry out Donald Trump’s draconian immigration policies,” he said.

Trump made clamping down on immigration a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, including building a wall on the country’s border with Mexico, deporting more of those people in the U.S. without legal authorization and prohibiting entry to immigrants from certain nations.

New York City has policies to limit its involvement in immigration enforcement. The mayors of cities including Albany and Rochester spoke out in appreciation of the guidelines.

“We are committed to being a sanctuary city, and these guidelines will assist in our efforts to protect immigrants’ rights and develop relationships that enhance public safety in our city,” Democratic Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said.

But Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group that pushes for strict immigration policies, said “the line is between not participating and impeding.”

He said, “They should be required to offer the same level of cooperation with ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] that they do with any other law enforcement agency in the country.”

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately comment.

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