New Paltz Town Officials Introduce Law to Assist Immigrants

New Paltz Town Officials Introduce Law to Assist Immigrants

By J’nelle Agee
Updated Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 05:09 PM EDT

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. — The immigration debate is playing out in Ulster County. Leaders in the Town of New Paltz are considering a new law that would prevent police from helping immigration and customs enforcement officials.

“Our job is not to do the federal government’s job,” said New Paltz Councilman Daniel Torres. “We have proposed a local law that limits the ability of our town police to coordinate with ICE for the purposes of enforcing of immigration policies.”

“The current policy of the New Paltz Town Police is to not detain undocumented residents and to not ask them for their papers with routine traffic stops, or we don’t do the work that ICE does,” said New Paltz Town Supervisor Neil Bettez.

Torres said there would be exceptions.

“If someone is a violent felon and they pose a risk to our community and our police are aware that they’re in town, they’ll be arrested and turned over,” Torres said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says cities will lose federal funding if immigration laws are not followed, but town officials say they are not obligated to follow Sessions’ demand, as New Paltz does not get federal funding.

“It’s an empty threat, and I think it’s bullying,” Bettez said. “New Paltz was founded by refugees, and I think that we can continue to be open and accepting.”

Leaders want input from police before they vote on the new plan that critics said could cause a rise in crime and quality of life issues. Bettez said this will help protect all residents.

“We don’t all look the same, we don’t all dress the same, we don’t all act the same, and I think everyone has as much right to be here as I do,” Bettez said.

“We have a SUNY campus with students, we have a number of farms in our community, and due to our restaurants as well, we’ve also attracted a population that tends to have those immigration-related issues,” Torres said.

A meeting to give people a chance to weigh in on the issue is slated for April 6.

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