Can New York Lawmakers Agree on Immigration Laws Before the Session Ends?

Can New York Lawmakers Agree on Immigration Laws Before the Session Ends?

By Tom Eschen | CBS 6 Albany News

With just weeks left in the 2024 legislative session, there are two bills with two very different perspectives in play at the New York State Capitol, both centering around immigrants, law enforcement and federal immigration services. This comes as asylum seekers are pushing lawmakers to do more to facilitate their transition to the United States.

“I, along with many members of Alianza Agricola, work in dairy farms, and ensure that New York can continue to be a State that brings prosperity to the agricultural industry,” Marcos Martinez said at the Capitol this week.

Martinez was one of dozens advocating for the passage of a Democrat sponsored bill, the New York For All Act, which would prohibit local law enforcement from colluding with federal immigration services.

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“The fear of speaking out in the face of injustice is because we do not have protections for our community,” Diana Rincon, who arrived from Columbia in January, says. “We cannot speak out if we are afraid of being separated from our families.”

The importance of this relationship between immigrants and law enforcement is something UAlbany students also found as a part of their capstone project this past year, of which they shared data and recommendations with Albany Police. The students studied how different municipalities have responded to a sudden influx of individuals from other countries. CBS6 spoke with a student whose group focused on legal resources, and to help fill the gap of a lack of immigration lawyers, they recommended allowing law students to help with paperwork. They also conveyed the need for police to work collaboratively with these individuals.

“Where as we might have a friend or family member that we might call, they most likely don’t have friends or family to call, they only have the police, so you have to create and foster a really good relationship with the police department,” Sarah Golden, a UAlbany Graduate in the class said.

It’s an issue Dawedo Sanon of Columbia County Sanctuary Movement on our Migrant Town Hall told CBS6 impacts several aspects of their lives.

“You should be able to go to court and not be in fear of being stopped by police and being detained,” she said. “You should be able to go to the DMV without being [detained]. You can’t even go to the doctor…some folks are afraid of going to a hospital because they collect their information. There’s nothing stopping these departments, from even a school, there’s nothing stopping them from giving their information over to ICE.”

But on the other side of the aisle, Republicans are pushing for the opposite, “Laken’s Law”, which would require law enforcement to notify ICE when an arrested individual is not a U.S. citizen.

“That would’ve helped collaborate New York State law enforcement and New York City law enforcement with federal officials to take care of some of this immigrant problem, but the Democrats in this state held the bill,” Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague said.

The Democrats have a supermajority in the State legislature, so in this case, NY for All can proceed, but the question is if lawmakers will pass an immigration package before session ends on June 6th.

Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes is the Senate Sponsor of NY for All, but also says the money in the budget will address needs.

“We did a lot of that work in the budget this year,” Gounardes says. “That state budget gave NYC about $2.6 billion to help deal with the influx of migrants. We also put a lot of the resources into legal services, job training, housing opportunities, so we did a lot there, certainly we could be doing more. Once they’re able to get on their feet, they’re able to get a job. They can find housing and then they don’t become a drain on the public any longer in terms of providing emergency housing like we are experiencing right now.”

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