WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By Professor Stephen Rolandi, John Jay School of Criminal Justice and Pace University. May 19, 2023:
(WPCNR asked Professor Rolandi, a regular analyst of state procedures for WPCNR to examine the feasibility of the Latimer plan on housing immigrants overflowing from New York City, currently the talk of the county. Here are his thoughts)
This is a complex immigration issue; which, in my view is a problem the Federal government created because the executive and legislative branch have not been able to agree on a compromise.
This problem dates back to the current and three prior administrations (Bush 43, Obama and Trump). It has been dumped on state and local governments as well as the courts.
County Executive Latimer is to be commended for proposing a solution and I believe he has called for Federal legislation in this area. His plan for a field court attempts to ensure a legal pathway for immigrants and recognizes the importance of due process while maintaining legal compliance.
The Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals (New York’s highest court) heads up the administration of the state court system.
There is a chief administrative judge as well as chief administrator who ensures the court system’s smooth functioning. Generally, lower court judges can be re-assigned where the caseload is very high (for example, criminal and civil court judges).
So a field court with hearing officers/judges may be permissible.
The Federal doctrine of preemption (contained in the Supremacy clause of the Constitution) may apply in this situation.
According to the US Constitution (Article VI, Section 2), when Federal and state law conflicts, Federal law generally prevails. When state and local law conflicts, state law will usually prevail. My guess is that what County Executive Latimer wants to do may work, but the devil is in the details.
There will also be the issue of which level (s) of government will pay for the cost of this proposed program. As we have seen with New York City, what the Federal government has proposed for cost relief to the City of New York may not be adequate. Time will tell on this one.