The White Plains Examiner

Astorino Issues Executive Order on Immigration

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Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino issued an Executive Order Wednesday that states county law enforcement will “continue to cooperate with federal authorities in investigating and apprehending aliens involved in criminal activity,” but will be prohibited, as has been the policy since 2006, from inquiring about “a person’s immigration status unless such officer is required by law to do so or is investigating illegal activity other than mere status as an undocumented alien.”

In a press release Astorino said the Executive Order is a balanced compromise designed to foster trust within the immigrant community, while not providing sanctuary to criminals. Astorino added that the Executive Order reinforces existing County Police procedure, and replaces a 2006 Executive Order by then-County Executive Andrew Spano that was determined by the County Attorney to be in violation of federal law.

“For years, Washington has failed us,” Astorino said. “We have a broken immigration system and borders that are not secure. This is a failure of Congress, both parties and multiple Presidential administrations. While we wait for Washington to finally get its act together, Westchester will continue to protect all of its residents. However, if you end up in our jail for committing a crime, and you’re not here legally, we’re not providing a sanctuary to you and we will cooperate fully with federal immigration officials.”

In August, Astorino vetoed an Act passed by the Board of Legislators because of strong objections by many in law enforcement, the County Attorney and others who said that the bill would turn Westchester into a “Sanctuary County,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice.  In his veto message, Astorino said the Act “violates federal law, infringes upon long-established principles of law enforcement cooperation, and jeopardizes millions in federal public safety grants.”

“Everyone in Westchester, no matter what their immigration status is, should feel safe to report crimes and seek medical attention,” said Astorino.  “However, Westchester cannot and must not become a ‘Sanctuary County’ that provides a safe haven to criminals.  My Executive Order protects the former, and my veto of the Act prevents the latter.”

“This Executive Order strikes the right balance between the concerns of law enforcement and the concerns of the immigrant community and I’m happy to support it,” said Board of Legislators Minority Leader John Testa, (R-Peekskill).

In response to the Astorino Executive Order, a statement released by Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) said: “We introduced the Immigrant Protection Act in February for two reasons – first,  President Trump’s words and actions on immigration and how they would impact our community and second, because we felt that the existing Executive Order needed to be codified.

“Today’s move by the County Executive leaves us in exactly the same place. While this is a half-step toward the goal we began months ago, it has the potential to further put our immigrant neighbors at risk by allowing them to believe this will provide adequate protection. Recent federal action has shown that Executive Orders depend on the opinion and whim of a single individual. They do not have the force of legislative action and can be easily rescinded. As President Trump’s move on DACA shows – this administration has their sights set on immigrants, no matter their age and no matter how much they contribute to our schools, our businesses, and our community.

“Make no mistake about it – we still must override the County Executive’s veto of the Immigrant Protection Act, a bi-partisan bill that fully complies with federal law and makes us all safer by helping to build trust between our public safety officers and our immigrant community.”


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