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New York Attorney General Helps Cities Defy Federal Law

Following the guidance of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, several cities and towns in New York have recently passed new laws and resolutions declaring themselves sanctuary cities.

In fact, New York City and two of the other four cities in the state with a population of at least 100,000 — Rochester and Syracuse — are now sanctuary cities, and have officially declared that they will not cooperate with the federal government’s attempts to enforce the nation’s immigration laws. They are joined by Ithaca, Newburgh, Irvington and Albany, the state capital.

“If you’re a lawbreaker, you should be worried about law enforcement.”

“New York stands out because it’s the only state in which the top law enforcement authority, a veteran elected official, is actively encouraging and assisting local governments to violate the law,” Judicial Watch said this week.

Schneiderman issued his legal guidance [1] on Jan. 19, the day before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, with the stated goal of showing municipalities how they could skirt federal law, and block or impede the federal government’s enforcement of immigration laws.

One of the municipalities that recently became a sanctuary city is the crime-ridden city of Newburgh, N.Y., which has a population of about 29,000 — half of it Hispanic. Another is the affluent Hudson River town of Irvington, named after the famous American writer Washington Irving, author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle.”

Schneiderman’s guidance offered “model language” to cities that they could use in ordinances or resolutions to avoid losing federal funds under new Trump administration rules punishing sanctuary cities.

In Newburgh, the local newspaper described illegal immigrants in the community as being “gripped with fear,” but fear didn’t keep a large crowd, strangely, from showing up to support the city’s sanctuary resolution.

“If you’re a lawbreaker, you should be worried about law enforcement,” Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies told LifeZette. “This isn’t Russia or North Korea. You’ll just be taken into custody and flown home — for free!”

Krikorian, who has testified before Congress several times on the issue of immigration, said cities and towns “don’t get to pick and choose how immigration laws are enforced.”

He says officials in sanctuary cities like to say that they are not going to participate in enforcement in immigration laws, but that they are in fact “taking immigration law into their own hands” because they are often, though not always, agreeing to hold for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) people they’ve arrested for violent crimes who are here illegally.

“They’re deciding who gets deported and who doesn’t,” he said.

Krikorian says this is wrong, because immigration law is clearly the federal government’s purview, and that cities, by challenging the federal government’s authority, are essentially doing what South Carolina did in the 1830s in deciding that federal tariff laws did not apply to their state.

“These sanctuary cities are essentially neo-confederates, as far as policy goes,” he says. “They’re going to have to be reined in.”

He says cutting off Justice Department funds is the first step.

New York State receives $218 million a year in grants for law enforcement through the Office of Justice Programs. But total federal funds are much higher. New York City alone gets $7 billion a year in federal funding, while Rochester, which also passed a sanctuary-city resolution, is due to get $5.7 million in federal funding this year.

But that won’t be enough, says Krikorian.

“Justice will need to sue, because states are defying federal law.”

And then there’s the “nuclear option” — which would be suing local governments that have passed sanctuary-city policies.

“It may never happen…it’s a pretty radical option, but it may end up coming to that,” said Krikorian.

He says some cities that have declared that they want to protect illegal immigrants can “save face” and prevent federal funds from being cut off by coming to an agreement with the federal government whereby the government issues administrative warrants to get the city, town or county to hold someone they’ve arrested.