Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino new order says that county law enforcement will “continue to cooperate with federal authorities in investigating and apprehending aliens involved in criminal activity,” but will be prohibited, as has been the policy since 2006, from inquiring about “a person’s immigration status unless such officer is required by law to do so or is investigating illegal activity other than mere status as an undocumented alien.”
In August, Astorino vetoed an Act passed by the Board of Legislators because of strong objections by many in law enforcement, the County Attorney and others who said that the bill would turn Westchester into a “Sanctuary County,” as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice. In his veto message, Astorino said the Act “violates federal law, infringes upon long-established principles of law enforcement cooperation, and jeopardizes millions in federal public safety grants.”
Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner George Longworth added that “anything that inhibits our ability to work with federal law enforcement partners like the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies is a bad and reckless idea.”
Hector Lopez, pre)sident of the Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association, said the Act would have placed “handcuffs on our law enforcement officers, not the criminals” and would have opened the doors for undocumented immigrants involved in criminal activity, such as the ruthless MS-13 gang, to migrate to Westchester and prey on other immigrants.