Tuesday, January 24, 2017

On the Subject of Sanctuary Cities

Last Thursday, in anticipation of expected changes in federal immigration enforcement practices, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman provided a legal roadmap for local governments and law enforcement seeking to protect vulnerable immigrant communities. Today, Dave Lucas, on WAMC's Midday Magazine, reported on the initiative to create sanctuary cities throughout the state: "Sanctuary: Protecting Immigrant Communities."

Sanctuary and protecting immigrant communities was also a topic of discussion at the Common Council Police Committee meeting last night. The idea that Hudson should become a sanctuary city, which is being promoted by the Hudson City Democratic Committee, was first presented by Alderman Tiffany Garriga (Second Ward) at the informal Common Council meeting on January 9. At the Police Committee meeting, Michael Chameides, chair of the HCDC, explained that the general idea of the initiative was that "immigration enforcement is a distraction for the police department." He also suggested that immigration enforcement was a barrier to good relationships between the police and the community. "People will not call the police," he asserted, "if they are afraid of being deported." He outlined three policy ideas:
  1. Hudson police officers do not ask about immigration status
  2. Hudson police do not report cases to immigration enforcement except in situations when a person has been convicted of a felony
  3. Hudson police do not track or record citizenship status, to the extent reasonably possible
Chief Ed Moore explained that the Hudson Police Department does not currently enforce immigration, noting that in the past three years the HPD has had only six contacts with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE). He urged that a lot of discussion was needed before a decision was made to designate Hudson a sanctuary city. He said he felt "an automatic rejection of anything that goes against state and federal law." Responding to the information that the attorney general of New York had created a legal roadmap for establishing sanctuary cities and the action would have the support of state government, Moore spoke of a "fight between the federal and statement government over sovereignty." 

Addressing the notion of a database for tracking immigrants, Moore said, "We have nothing like this and don't plan to." Speaking to the idea of ICE "swooping in and rounding up all the undocumented citizens," Moore said, "The task force that people fear, I don't think it can happen."

Many audience members spoke in favor of sanctuary city status for Hudson, arguing that it would give immigrants hope and make them feel safe. Alderman Henry Haddad (Third Ward), who chairs the Police Committee, said he had initially been in favor of sanctuary city status until he received a letter from a woman whose mother-in-law had been murdered in Hillsdale in 2011 by a convicted felon ICE had tried unsuccessfully to deport. Haddad distributed copies of the letter to committee members and the press. He also distributed copies of an investigative report that appeared in the Boston Globe on December 9, 2012, which recounted, among other such cases, the tragic incident in Hillsdale: "Many freed criminals avoid deportation, strike again." Haddad presented this incident as an argument against pursuing sanctuary city status for Hudson.

The topic of sanctuary city will be taken up next by the Common Council Legal Committee, which meets tomorrow night, Wednesday, January 25, at 6:15 p.m. at City Hall.


  1. Today, the President signed an executive order to shut off federal funds for cities that refuse to inform federal officials about undocumented immigrants in their custody.

    Question: What is the amount of federal funding the City of Hudson receives annually, and what are the funds used for?

    1. You beat me to it. My question as well.

      Also, I'd like to know what percentage, either actual or a guestimate, of Hudson's population are in danger of deportation?

      I would be sad to see Galvan's hardworking Spanish-only speaking workers and their families become subject to harassment by federal, state or local law enforcement.