New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued new legal guidance to cities weighing “sanctuary” policies to protect immigrants affected by President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Schneiderman, a Democrat, is seeking to help cities give local police direction on how to handle interactions with federal agents enforcing the “Draconian immigration policies” outlined by the Republican president, according to a statement on Sunday.
“Our legal guidance is clear: President Trump does not have the authority to unilaterally transform state and local police into federal immigration agents,” Schneiderman said.
The guidance comes amid legal challenges to Trump’s executive order on March 6 that bars entry to the U.S. for 90 days by citizens of six mostly Muslim countries. It also prohibits entry by refugees for 120 days. Trump separately vowed to deport those in the U.S. illegally, which immigration advocates fear could affect millions of people.
Schneiderman wants to advise local police who have discretion in dealing with U.S. agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and Customs and Border Protection, or CBP. Law enforcement shouldn’t ask about a person’s immigration status unless investigating illegal activity besides their status as an undocumented alien, the attorney general advised.
Local police should honor requests to detain immigrants only if ICE or CBP agents present a judicial warrant or have probable cause that a person committed crimes such as terrorism, Schneiderman recommended. Police can also decline to share non-public information, including a detainee’s date of release or next court appearance, he said. Similarly, police can block U.S. agents from questioning someone just for immigration enforcement purposes.
While noting that a city’s “sanctuary” status has no legal definition, nine municipalities in New York have offered such types of protection to immigrants. They are Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Kingston, Newburgh, Hudson, White Plains and Irvington.
(c) 2017, Bloomberg · David Voreacos