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Troy council members revamp sanctuary city resolution

July 02, 2019 11:10 PM

TROY – The debate over whether or not Troy should be a sanctuary city continues. It has been about seven months since the city council tabled the resolution on it. Now, democrats on the council have brought forward a revised resolution.

The new resolution is being called the “FACT” Act. It stands for families and communities together. Councilman David Bissember, who is also the chair of the public safety committee, said they found a lot of people had a preconceived notion on what a sanctuary city is.

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"We would get more folks on board with this idea if we would change the name,” explained Bissember. “And that certainly is the goal of this, is to build consensus."

The resolution says it clarifies and codifies city policy preventing city employees from unnecessarily inquiring on the immigration status of the residents they interact with. It goes on to say or otherwise aid the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office in anyway.

“A lot of these policies were not in place,” said Councilman Anasha Cummings. “They are increasingly in place and even now there are not explicit policies within the police department on these issues.”

The resolution in the city also comes as the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office participates with ICE’s 287G agreement, which places immigration agents within the city.

“As you tangle those relationships people feel less likely that they can cooperate with those governments and they are less likely to report crimes when they're going on in our communities,” said Bissember.

However, City Council President Carmella Mantello said the council should not worry about fixing a federal problem and should instead focus more on vacant buildings and fixing roads.

"We are an inclusive city,” said Mantello. “We're a welcoming city. Go on Third Street a few blocks from here we have a refugee from Vietnam who just opened a restaurant."

Mantello said she will introduce a local law at the council’s next meeting on July 11. The law would make it so city residents have a say in the issue.

"Three public hearings and then it would be voted on by the city council in August to put to referendum in November,” said Mantello.

The council majority hopes to vote on the resolution and pass it at the July 11 meeting. They said they don't understand why Mantello would continue to make this a long process. If it does pass at the meeting, it would have to then be signed by Mayor Patrick Madden.

The resolution also mentioned Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin saying “Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin and Clerk Frank Merola have made numerous public statements aimed at inciting xenophobia in our community and have committed to collaborating with federal immigration authorities regardless of State law.”

McLauglin released the following statement regarding this:

“I am appalled by the behavior of the City Council Members in the City of Troy who introduced such divisive legislation today. The direct criticism of me and County Clerk Frank Merola by Troy Democrats on the City Council is completely inappropriate, unwarranted and beyond the pale.  There is a tiny minority of people who are pushing this radical Sanctuary City position which is opposed by an overwhelming majority of City and County residents."

McLaughlin noted that just last week the County and City entered into a Memorandum of Agreement for the City to administer the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Formula Program.

“Under this agreement, the City is required by law to adhere to federal immigration laws and regulations.”  McLaughlin elaborated, “If the City is not able to uphold their end of the bargain, this funding will be in jeopardy.  I will repeat myself, Troy is part of Rensselaer County and Rensselaer County will not acknowledge this legislation when we are processing people in our jail who have broken the law.”

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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