WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- County Executive Rob Astorino said he is committed to making sure Westchester does not become a "sanctuary county."
Astorino issued an executive order Wednesday that says county law enforcement will continue to cooperate with federal authorities in investigating and apprehending immigrants involved in criminal activity but will be prohibited from asking about their legal status unless required by law.
The executive order comes in the wake of Astorino's veto of the Immigrant Protection Act, which was approved by the Board of Legislators. Astorino said he feared the bill would turn Westchester into a "sanctuary county" and lose federal funding.
“ While we wait for Washington to finally get its act together, Westchester will continue to protect all of its residents," Astorino said. "However, if you end up in our jail for committing a crime, and you’re not here legally, we’re not providing a sanctuary to you and we will cooperate fully with federal immigration officials.”
Astorino said he believes his Executive Order should calm the fears of undocumented immigrants that they cannot report crimes or seek medical assistance for fear that they will be deported.
Majority Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) said the executive order was a "half-step" that could further put immigrants at risk.
"Recent federal action has shown that Executive Orders depend on the opinion and whim of a single individual," Borgia said. "They do not have the force of legislative action and can be easily rescinded."
The executive order was supported by most of the Republicans in the legislature.
"This Executive Order strikes the right balance between the concerns of law enforcement and the concerns of the immigrant community and I’m happy to support it,” said Board of Legislators Minority Leader John Testa (R-Peekskill).
Legislators need 12 votes at its Sept. 25 meeting to override the veto of the Immigrant Protection Act. The original legislation passed 10-5, with two legislators absent.
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