Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

New York will never submit to President Trump’s immigration rhetoric

January 26, 2017

As published by the NY Daily News on January 25, 2017. Written by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

President Trump just threatened to cut off federal funds to cities that have tried to protect immigrant communities from potentially abusive federal immigration enforcement practices, saying that they are “willfully” violating federal law and “causing harm to the American people.” He is dead wrong.

As I outlined last week in legal guidance to local governments across New York, they can do a lot without violating federal law, and while making their communities safer.

Apparently President Trump thinks he can bully New Yorkers into policies that violate our fundamental values as New Yorkers, but we will not be intimidated.

As powerful as the presidency is, no administration can force local governments to enforce his federal policy.

To help ensure that every community knows its rights under the law — and in anticipation of an executive order like the one signed by President Trump — my office issued legal guidance last week to cities and counties across New York outlining their ability to both resist local enforcement of potentially draconian immigration policies of a Trump administration and preserve the law enforcement practices that keep their neighborhoods safe by refusing to simply vilify all immigrants.

In recent years, scores of local governments across the country-and across New York State-have recognized that extending immigrants the same fundamental rights guaranteed to all Americans helps make our communities safer. That’s because treating immigrant communities with respect builds and maintains trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

When individuals trust their local police department, they’re more likely to call and report a crime, identify a suspect, or testify against a domestic abuser. But if they think a phone call to police will result in getting them or a family member deported, they will never pick up the phone. Local law enforcement agencies like the NYPD understand that, which is why New York City has embraced sensible policies for several years, all while reducing crime.

Nevertheless, given President Trump’s blistering rhetoric on immigration policy, local governments and police departments outside of New York City are understandably concerned about how much they can do to resist federal interference with their existing practices.

New York has a long history of welcoming immigrants and embracing diversity. Now is the time for us to stand-up for those values more than ever. As New York’s Attorney General, I will do that by using my office’s authority to fight President Trump’s dangerous and misguided immigration policies every step of the way.