Westchester Board of Legislators Pass Immigrant Protection Act, 11-3. Awaits County Executive Signature. First in State to Pass Such a Bill

WPCNR COUNTY CLARION-LEDGER. Release from the County Board of Legislators and Neighbors LINK. March 12, 1018:

The Westchester County Board of Legislators voted Monday night to approve the Immigration Protection Act.

The bi-partisan measure passed by a vote of 11-3. It was supported by all of the chamber’s 12 Democrats, but two were absent from the meeting for reasons unrelated to the vote, which is reflected in the vote total. It also was supported by Yonkers Republican David J. Tubiolo.

Chair of the Board of Legislators Ben Boykin, District 5 - White Plains, Scarsdale, Harrison, said, “I applaud my colleagues for the passage of the Immigration Protection Act. Moving this legislation, which had been thwarted by the prior County Executive, was a priority for the new Board and I commend all those who were involved in crafting this latest version.  The Immigration Protection Act will foster the safety of all of the County’s residents by removing any trepidation some might have in the interactions with the County’s law enforcement agencies and I’m proud that we’ve been able to craft something that has the full support of both advocates for the immigrant community and the County Departments responsible for public safety, corrections and probation.”

The legislation is not a sanctuary bill, but defines what county law enforcement can ask about a person’s citizenship or immigration status and what information the county will share with federal officials.

The Westchester County Departments of Public Safety, Corrections and Probation all supported the legislation and agreed that it will protect all people without violating the law.

Neighbors Link, in a news release tonight noted that 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. Decreased reporting makes criminals harder to catch, endangering the safety of all local residents.

Neighbors Link, John Jay Legal Services, the New York Immigration Coalition, and Make the Road New York collaborated with other Westchester-based member organizations, to advocate for the bill’s passage and engage community members on the issue. All partners are members of the NYIC Westchester Steering Committee, a coalition of 20 organizations in the area.

“Strong, safe communities depend on good relations between law enforcement and locals.  Today, Westchester became the first county in the state to put public safety first for all residents, regardless of immigration status. We applaud Legislator Borgia for her leadership, and eagerly await County Executive George Latimer’s signature to turn this crucial legislation into law,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition

“We have made history tonight by passing the Immigration Protection Act, which enhances safety in Westchester County by increasing trust and cooperation between county employees, particularly law enforcement, and all residents,” said County Legislator Catherine Borgia, District 9 - Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill, chair of the Board’s Budget & Appropriations Committee.

“I am very grateful to all of the members of the large bipartisan coalition that helped bring this Act to passage after a year of extensive research and negotiation. Special thanks to my colleagues on the Board, particularly former Legislator Jim Maisano; the Law Enforcement and Social Service commissioners and union members; the Latimer administration including County Attorney John Nonna; the Westchester Chapter of the NY Immigration Coalition; the New York State Attorney General’s office; and advocacy groups such as A Better Road NY, Neighbors Link, and the many citizen groups who kept this issue in the forefront of our agenda.  I am very proud of the work we did together to ensure justice and equal protection for all Westchester residents.”

An earlier version of the measure was vetoed by then-County Executive Rob Astorino.


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