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LatimerSignsIPASmallerMarch 20, 2018 – Westchester County Executive George Latimer signed the bi-partisan Immigrant Protection Act flanked by law enforcement, immigration advocates, legislators and Westchester County residents.  The measure, which passed the Board of Legislators on March 12, aims to increase trust and cooperation between all Westchester residents and law enforcement.

Latimer said: “The Board of Legislators came together in a bi-partisan way, with the assistance of law enforcement and immigration advocates alike, to craft a law which fully complies with federal law while offering humane peace of mind to our immigrant brothers and sisters. This law makes all Westchester residents safer by increasing trust between communities and allowing Westchester law enforcement officials to focus on their job – not the federal governments.”

The Immigrant Protection Act outlines what information County law enforcement will require from those they interact with and how this information is shared with all levels of law enforcement. 

The Act holds that:

  • Detainees must be made aware of various immigration status issues;
  • Detainees may not be held without a criminal warrant;
  • County agencies and employees shall not perform the duties of Federal Immigration Authorities, engage in the enforcement of federal immigration law, or accept requests by Federal Immigration Authorities to assist in the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The measure is supported by the County Departments of Public Safety, Corrections and Probation.

A study done by the University of Illinois at Chicago entitled “Insecure Communities: Latino Perceptions of Police Involvement in Immigration Enforcement,” found that 45 percent of Latinos stated that they are less likely to voluntarily offer information about crimes, and 45 percent are less likely to report a crime because they are afraid the police will ask them or people they know about their immigration status. Additionally, fear of police contact is not confined to immigrants. For example, 28 percent of US-born Latinos said they are less likely to contact police officers if they have been the victim of a crime because they fear that police officers will use this interaction as an opportunity to inquire into their immigration status or that of people they know.

Acting Department of Public Safety Commissioner Martin McGlynn said: “Our job is to keep Westchester residents safe – regardless of their background. This law, which will enable a greater level of trust between our officers and the large immigrant population in our communities, will make our job easier. Increased cooperation between residents and our officers helps make our County safer for everyone.”

Department of Corrections Commissioner Joe Spano said: “This law enables us to do our job, coordinate with all authorities and build a stronger relationship with Westchester residents. That is a win on all fronts. Our Department has, and always will, treat everyone we encounter with the same level of dignity and respect.”

Department of Probation Commissioner Rocco Pozzi said: “Westchester County law enforcement officials, including my Department, stand behind this law because it is the right thing to do for our community. The Immigrant Protection Act allows us to do our job and maintain the level of respect and trust needed for us to effectively interact with all Westchester residents.”

Westchester County Police Benevolent Association President Mike Hagan said: “Our officers appreciate the conversations that we were a part of during the drafting of this law. The input we had in this thorough process allowed for a measure that will allow us to do what we are tasked to do while ensuring the safety of Westchester County residents.”

President of the Westchester Superior Officers Association Bruce Donnelly said: “I appreciate the Board of Legislators extending an invitation for Westchester County Corrections Superior Officers Association to be part of the conversation on this important topic; the safety of all residents living and working in the County is of the utmost importance."

Chair of the Board of Legislators Ben Boykin said: “It is wonderful to see our new County Executive George Latimer signing into law this common-sense measure which protects the safety and security of all Westchester residents.  It's important for people to know that this does not make Westchester a ‘sanctuary’ County. In fact, it requires that County law enforcement complies with all state and federal laws. This law ensures that people living peacefully and productively in our communities can continue to contribute to the life in Westchester, without fear of reaching out to law enforcement when they have been victimized.”

Westchester County Legislator Catherine Borgia said: “Thank you County Executive Latimer, for reaffirming Westchester’s values as a welcoming community that believes in equal justice for all by signing the Immigration Protection Act. Thank you to the many hundreds of activists, stakeholders, and residents who partnered with us to pass this legislation.”

Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez said: “As a Hispanic immigrant, this is an emotional moment for me; it's also a historic moment for Westchester. The Immigrant Protection Act delivers on our values, making Westchester the welcoming place we want it to be for hard working immigrant families who have come here in pursuit of the American Dream.  But it also delivers the safety and security we want for all residents by lifting the cloud of fear that keeps immigrants from reaching out to County officials if they've been victims of a crime or if they have information about a crime.”

Director of Consumer Protection, and former County Legislator, Jim Maisano said: “The Immigrant Protection Act is a good law which went through an extensive drafting process. The law received input from both sides of the aisle, law enforcement, immigration advocates and Westchester residents who all had the same goal in mind – to make Westchester County safer for everyone. I am proud to stand here today after our many months of hard work.”

Neighbors Link Executive Director Carola Otero Bracco said: “Neighbors Link considers the Immigrant Protection Act to be a crucial element for the safety of the entire community, and we are deeply gratified that the Westchester County Legislature has passed this measure. This is a stronger and more durable bill thanks to hard work of so many, in particular, Legislator Catherine Borgia. We congratulate Westchester County Executive George Latimer for signing this historic legislation - the first legislation of its kind in Westchester County. We are proud to stand with the coalition of supporters and advocates who made it happen. It is a step forward in acknowledging that Westchester County represents welcoming communities that are strengthened by the richness of our diversity."