Could Albany lose federal funding as a "sanctuary city"?

March 28, 2017 06:25 PM

ALBANY -- After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to pull funding from sanctuary cities on Monday, Mayor Kathy Sheehan reaffirmed that Albany is indeed a sanctuary city.  

"We want people to feel as though they can come into these buildings and not worry that they're going to be asked about their immigration status. That is not our role, that is not our function," said Sheehan, a democrat.

There's no universal definition of a sanctuary city. For Sheehan, it means not asking about immigration status.  

Albany Police say in most cases officers don't check the immigration status of people who are arrested. After running their criminal history, they'll hold individuals for federal immigration authorities if that person is already wanted.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says cities must follow a specific law to get federal funding: 8 USC 1373. The law says local authorities must share information with immigration officials.  

Sheehan says the city is following that law based on guidance from New York's Attorney General and the Conference of Mayors.   

"We certainly are not in a position where we are flagrantly violating the law. We are interpreting it as we understand it," said Sheehan.  

Albany is still waiting on 12.5 million dollars from the state as lawmakers enter the final week of budget negotiations at the capitol.  

Sheehan says there is upwards of 7 million dollars of federal funding in the city's budget. Of that, she says over a million dollars of funding coming from the justice department.  

We asked if the mayor is concerned about the possibility of losing federal funding.

"I think that the threat is certainly concerning. I'm more concerned about what this could do to our community," said Sheehan.  

Sheehan says she'll consult with the city police chief, district attorney, and New York Attorney General before she changes the city's immigration guidelines.

"I'm going to listen to the professionals here in the city of Albany. I'm going to do what's best for our community and our residents," said Sheehan.

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Asa Stackel

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