City Hall and local advocates remained opposed to the latest Republican-led effort to cut federal funds for local governments that protect undocumented immigrants from deportation.
The Senate is set to vote on a bill to block funding to any municipality that prevents its law enforcement agencies from reporting undocumented immigrants who’ve been arrested to federal immigration agents.
Nisha Agarwal, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said in a statement to Metro that the bill “has far-reaching implications for every New Yorker.”
“The Senate’s deliberation of this bill has a chilling impact on immigrant families in New York and reflects a growing climate of hostility within Congress towards immigrant families,” Agarwal said.
A similar bill passed through the House of Representatives in July, although it met with opposition from local Republican lawmakers who argued it was punitive to local police.
President Barack Obama already committed to veto any sanctuary city bills, which were the result of Republican pressure to crack down on repeat undocumented immigrant offenders and boosted by GOP presidential candidates.
Agarwal added that the bill, which is up for a vote in the GOP-controlled Senate on Tuesday, would put at least $150 million in city services and some 1,000 city jobs at risk.
Those programs, among others, are all funded by community development block grants doled out by the federal government and add up to some $6.37 billion nationwide.
The grants are also the source for New York state’s ongoing Sandy recovery efforts. The governor’s office did not respond to Metro’s request for comment.
Jessica Vaughan, a policy director for the Center for Immigration Studies, a nonpartisan group that supports limits on immigration, explained those block grant cuts are focused on the local governments and not the police who would arrest immigrants for a reason.
“The bill’s authors don’t want to penalize authorities who would cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement but don’t because of interference from local governments,” Vaughan said.
The bill does include cuts to some police services, mainly to programs tied to community policing. Vaughan posited that the bill is specifically targeting “the worst of the worst in the immigrant population.”
“That improves public safety for everyone, but especially for immigrants,” she said. “Victims and witnesses are not targeted by ICE, so cracking down on sanctuaries is not going to have a negative effect on community policing or crime reporting.”
The bill’s critics are unconvinced. María Magdalena Hernandez, a Long Island resident and member of immigrant advocacy group Make the Road New York said the bill would instead do major damage to communities.
Hernandez said existing bills in various municipalities, including New York City’s efforts to restrict communications on immigration status between local and federal authorities, have helped keep families together.
“It would also greatly damage the relationship between immigrant communities and the police, who would be less likely to report crimes because they would fear questions about their immigration status,” Hernandez added.
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