City Council: Schenectady will not become a sanctuary city

April 17, 2017 11:22 PM

SCHENECTADY - Schenectady City Council Members have heard calls both in support and in against making Schenectady a sanctuary city.

“To make sure that all immigrants who are inside the City of Schenectady feel safe,” said Jamaica Miles, Lead Organizer for Citizen Action of NY.

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However, two resolutions addressing the issue failed to gain enough support at Monday night's Schenectady City Council committee meeting, where they died.

“Sanctuary cities is putting something in our hands that's beyond our control,” said Councilman John Polimeni, who sits on the Government Operations Committee, which put the resolutions forward. “Immigration is a federal rule of law. We have nothing to do with that.”

Sanctuary cities generally limit cooperation with federal officials to help undocumented immigrants, for example, by not turning them over for deportation.

Supporters, including Miles, said the City Council failed residents.

“They ignored the words of the many and choose the words of the few,” she said.

Council President Leesa Perazzo authored one of the sanctuary resolutions and said, only once has she ever seen so much support for an issue.

“I think that's really important, we’re public servants,” said Perazzo, who chairs the Government Operations Committee. “So although we have to factor in the voices of our citizens and apply them to government.”

Instead, most council members got behind a resolution supporting immigration reform, moving that measure closer to a vote.

“Because it is a federal issue, it is the proper way to go and to encourage Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform because we all know we need it,” Polimeni said.

“There's not support to make Schenectady a sanctuary city and we’ve already determined that,” Perazzo said. “But my point all along was let's talk about all of the variety of things we can do in and around that,” Perazzo said.

Where do supporters of sanctuary cities go from here?

“Back to the next city council meeting as well as the fact that we will continue to collect petitions which I haven't even turned in yet,” Miles said.

The council will vote on the immigration reform resolution during their meeting next Monday.


Nia Hamm

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