ALBANY — State Attorney General Letitia James is standing up for sanctuary cities in New York.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday at a press conference that he would consider holding off funding to help cities and states respond to the economic fallout of COVID-19 until certain adjustments are made.
“We’re not looking to recover 25 years of bad management and give them the money that they lost,” Trump said. “If we were going to do something for the states, I think they’d probably want something having to do with sanctuary cities and other different points that we can discuss a little later on.”
James released a statement Tuesday in response to Trump’s comments.
“President Trump’s threat to hold coronavirus funding hostage to cities and states across the country is the latest in his efforts to push a sinister political agenda that only aims to punish us all — citizens and non-citizens alike,” James said. “This is just another attempt to again feed to his base and push the same partisan ideology we’ve seen for the last three years.”
New York is one of 11 sanctuary states. In March, as COVID-19 spread in New York, Trump said he would withhold federal funds from states that defied his administration’s immigration policies.
“New York is proud of its status as a sanctuary state that welcomes, and will fight to protect, its immigrant residents — many of whom are fighting on the frontlines to battle the coronavirus,” James said. “It is my sincerest hope that one day the president will wake up and realize the power of his words, until that day comes we will be ready to take legal action.”
Hudson’s Common Council supported a resolution in 2017 designating Hudson a Welcoming and Inclusive City.
The Hudson Police Department does not inquire about immigration status unless it is necessary to investigate criminal activity by an individual, and the department gives full priority to public safety and justice concerns in preference to rigid enforcement of immigration regulations.
The resolution stated HPD shall not stop, question, interrogate, investigate, arrest, or detain an individual based solely on actual or suspected immigration or citizenship status or a civil immigration warrant, administrative warrant or an immigration detainer in the individual’s name, according to the Common Council’s resolution.
The city has no formal existing agreements to enforce federal immigration policy, and does not inquire about immigration status before making government services available to individuals, according to the resolution.
When the Common Council introduced the resolution, members spoke about concerns over the loss of federal funding.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers have visited Hudson on several occasions, including twice in the past year.
Trump’s comments demonstrate the administration’s commitment to put a radically anti-immigrant agenda before the public health in the middle of a pandemic, said Gloria Martinez, who co-chairs the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement Board of Directors.
“Our members continue to be illegally arrested by local police departments and turned over to ICE for minor traffic violations,” Martinez said. “In fact, our state is indirectly supporting the federal administration’s anti-immigrant agenda by continuing to deny undocumented New Yorkers access to health care and refusing to include them in relief funding.”
The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement has joined a coalition of organizations across the state fighting for the creation of an Excluded Workers Disaster Income Replacement Fund.
Albany became a sanctuary city in April 2017 after Mayor Kathy Sheehan issued an executive order declaring the city’s police department would not ask individuals about immigration or citizenship status unless pertinent to an investigation.
Ithaca and New York City are New York’s other two sanctuary cities. Sanctuary counties are Franklin, Nassau, Onondaga, St. Lawrence and Westchester.
“There should be no caveats,” Ulster County Administrator Patrick Ryan said Wednesday. “This is not the time for conditions on aid that is clearly needed and that will be instrumental to preserving lives.”
The American Civil Liberties Union also responded to the president’s comments. “We cannot allow the Trump administration to exploit a public health crisis to further their anti-immigrant agenda,” according to an ACLU statement.