Saturday, February 11, 2017

Lawmakers Consider Legislation to Declare NY a Sanctuary State

The Democratic-controlled New York State Assembly held a press conference to announce it would pass a series of Bills in support of Undocumented New Yorkers. The goal was to push back against a Trump White House, which many crtics says has taken on a xenophobic and anti-immigration tone.

One of the Bills Assembly Democrats promised to pass is the Liberty Act, which has the effect of making New York a "Sanctuary State." But when it came time to tally the votes, the Democrats could barely muster enough to pass it.

"Some of these votes are tough," said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "That's one of the reasons we love to have such a big majority. We are able to get tough votes passed. We wanted to send a message to the world about where we stand and where our hearts are when it comes to dealing with immigrants."

The Sanctuary State bill ended up passing by just two votes in the Assembly, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than two to one. In some cases, Democrats were asked to change their "no" votes to "yes."

"Yeah, it seemed that once we debated the bill and actually showed what was in it, many Democrats got cold feet and didn't necessarily want to vote for it," said Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, whose District covers parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island. "It is a really bad bill."

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is opposed to the Bill, was even more critical of the Assembly vote. "Small? 77 to 58, that is virtually no margin," Flanagan said. "It's OK. I think that is an indication of the significant number of problems associated with the bill."

The Sanctuary State Bill would prevent Law Enforcement at the State and Local level from inquiring about a person's Immigration Status or Sharing that Information with Federal Authorities, something that already is the case in New York City, as well as roughly 300 other cities and Counties and four other States.

"The Assembly passed a bill that said that. We have to review that because exactly what a sanctuary state is is a little ambiguous, right? The Senate has said the bill is unconstitutional," Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

State Democrats have been eager this session to send a message in the Trump era, but critics say it's highly unsual for the Assembly Speaker to bring any Bill to the floor without first taking a Head Count to determine how many votes he actually has.

New York City, a Sanctuary City, but still turns over Undocumented Individuals if they took part in a Major Crime.

"There are currently 170 offenses that as a matter of New York City law, when any of those offenses is committed, we cooperate with ICE," Mayor de Blasio told Members of the State Legislature during a Joint Budget Hearing.

"If there are some offenses that we should add, we are willing to do that always."

But that list does not include crimes such as:

- Forcible Touching
- Grand Larceny
- Identity Theft

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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