In an outright act of defiance of President Donald Trump’s stance on immigration reform, New York’s state legislature passed a bill that would transform it into a “sanctuary state,” hamstringing state and local law enforcement officers who want to assist federal agents in deporting illegal immigrants who are arrested.
“It is our job to respond to his call to build border walls with a wall of our own, one that protects diversity and acceptance that have always been at the core of our state,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya at a press conference. “Not only is it a moral imperative to shelter every race or religion from bigotry, it is our obligation to protect the function of our local law enforcement and agencies.”
The bill, which passed with a 77-58 vote and was vehemently opposed by Republican assemblymen, has been dubbed the “New York State Liberty Act.” Under the new law, state and local law enforcement officers would not be allowed to make arrests based on suspected immigration status, nor would they have the power to enforce federal immigration laws.
Furthermore, the Liberty Act would place restrictions on police agencies’ ability to collect data on immigration status from non-criminals and would force police to ignore federal detainers unless they are issued by a judge or if the criminal was convicted of a violent felony, has an outstanding warrant, has been previously deported, or is on a terrorism watch list.
GOP lawmakers have expressed their disdain for the measure.
“We pass laws for a reason – we pass laws to protect the public. Now we’re asking our local law enforcement to ignore some of those laws. That’s a problem. This is a matter of law. We need to allow law enforcement to work together to enforce all laws,” said GOP Assemblyman Dean Murray.
The bill is not expected to make it through the Republican-majority senate.