Mayor wants to make Kingston a “sanctuary city”

Kingston Mayor Steve Noble

Mayor Steve Noble has asked the Common Council to declare Kingston a “Sanctuary City.”

The phrase is commonly used to denote communities that have adopted an official policy of non-cooperation with immigration authorities. Noble said he planned to seek a symbolic statement of support for immigrant communities in Kingston, as well as support for potential policy changes in how the police department and other city agencies deal with immigration issues.

“We want to make sure that folks in Kingston recognize that we have a safe and welcoming community that’s open to everyone.”


Noble said his communication to the Common Council was prompted by requests from local clergy and the nonprofit law firm Worker Justice Center that he consider a Sanctuary City declaration in response to the election of Donald Trump as president. Trump kicked off his campaign by denouncing illegal immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug dealers, and has vowed to deport millions of undocumented U.S. residents. According to Father Frank Alagna of Midtown’s Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church, who drafted a letter to Noble that was signed by 21 local clergy, Trump’s election had sparked anxiety and instances of harassment aimed at parishioners. Alagna said he had recently attended a meeting with his congregation’s lay leaders where a Latino parishioner described how his nephew, an American-born third-grader, was taunted by classmates who told him he was “not a real American” and would be “sent back where he came from” under Trump.

“That kind of said to me that we needed to do a number of things because the air had become so blue, so toxic for so many of our friends and neighbors, our brothers and sisters,” said Alagna.

The phrase “Sanctuary City” in regards to immigration dates back to the 1980’s when a number of U.S. cities adopted policies intended to protect undocumented immigrants.  Specific policies vary; they range from simply prohibiting police or other city employees from inquiring about immigration status to laws that ban the use of any public resources to assist immigration officials in identifying or apprehending illegal immigrants.

According to Kingston Police Chief Egidio Tinti, the KPD has long had an unwritten policy of not asking questions about the immigration status of witnesses, crime victims or those who come into contact with police because of traffic infractions or other minor issues. Tinti said that the policy was intended to promote public safety by assuring members of immigrant communities that they could safely report crimes or otherwise interact with police. Tinti said that the policy did not apply to those suspected of serious crimes.

“If you’re a good person, a good citizen whose part of this community, that’s someone we want here,” said Tinti. “If you’re a criminal we take the measures we have to take to protect the community.”


Emma Kreyche, a workers’ rights advocate with the Kingston branch office of the Worker Justice Center, said the KPD already had a good reputation among members of the city’s immigrant community. She hoped the “Sanctuary City” initiative would give further reassurance by making the department’s unwritten policy official. Kreyche said Trump’s election had unleashed widespread fears of mass deportations and the forcible breaking up of “mixed status” families, where some members are legal residents or U.S. citizens while others have overstayed visas or crossed the border illegally. Much of that fear, she said, is based on concern that a Trump administration may enlist local law enforcement to assist the immigration crackdown.

“It’s not a significant change in terms of policy, it’s more about communicating to the community very clearly what that policy is,” said Kreyche. “It’s memorializing what’s already being practiced and reaffirming it in the face of what may be coming down the pike.”

A policy of official resistance to national immigration policy could have negative consequences for the city, however. While courts have ruled that local governments have no duty to enforce immigration authority, Trump has said that he would punish sanctuary cities by cutting off federal funding. Kingston receives about $600,000 in federal entitlement funds and more in various grants and assistance programs. While a simple memorializing resolution expressing the city’s openness to and support for immigrants would be unlikely to draw federal attention, the adoption of local laws prohibiting cooperation with immigration authorities might.

Noble said his communication to the council was simply asking for a memorializing statement “expressing our feelings around this.” But, he added, he had also directed Tinti to look at immigration policies adopted by other police agencies to determine if changes could be made in Kingston’s law or police department protocols.

“We don’t feel it’s our job to enforce federal immigration law,” said Noble. “We don’t have the tools or the manpower and we don’t feel it’s something we should be expending resources on.”

There are 14 comments

  1. Paul J.

    i think this sort of thing wouldn’t be very controversial if it had a different name. what other group is has the word “sanctuary” been most often used with over the last 15 years?

  2. Paul

    As a homeowner, tax payer, and son of immigrants I find the mayor’s choice reprehensible and law breaking. Is he serving his oath faithfully by turning a blind eye to illegal aliens? Maybe in kind he should similarly turn a blind eye to drug deals and other illegal activity as long as they don’t disturb the peace.

  3. Quasimodo

    New York State is one that does not go after illegal aliens. That is because they work and live in peonage, that is, they work for less than minimum wage six days a week and are finally ground into the earth when they can’t work anymore, just as Sojourner Truth’s parents were thrown out into the woods to starve and die. Nothing has changed in New York since the War Between The States when it comes to slave labor, and that is why she left here for good. Don’t fool yourselves with this “sanctuary” bit. You sound too much like Desdemona and her goat.(That is $275 a week for 60 hours of work year after year after year in Ulster County as an illegal alien.)

  4. Peggy

    Way to go, Mayor Noble! This is an exemplary town because of gutsy folks like you. Our proud history of inclusiveness of a mixed community dates back to Sojourner Truth and is among the reasons my family and I chose to live here. While it is ideal that folks should become legalized citizens, we cannot know the inhumane conditions in another country that drove them to this situation. More than likely it was even more dire poverty. Might we also attempt to help them so that they can find better than menial, overworked employment, housing, and citizenship? That is what’s known as helping one’s neighbor in time of need–another thing for which this town is exemplary.

  5. Dave

    This is the city in which my Arab immigrant family, which was mostly Christian but included at least one Muslim, settled when they arrived in America over 120 years ago. Refugees from what was a difficult place to live even then, my great-grandparents raised several children in the Hudson Valley. Their descendants now number in the hundreds and are active in the professions, in the arts, in the military and in education, oll of the contributing to the good of the nation.

    I’m glad to know Kingston is continuing its tradition of hospitality.

    “Sanctuary” may mean, to some, protection for illegal immigrants. To me, it represents safety from harm for all who may be unfairly treated during times when some neighbors take out their frustrations on others. If, indeed, some workers in the area are being treated poorly, let us work together on that.

  6. Kingston Patriot

    WELL…As the submitter of the “Sanctuary City” question and in follow-up…

    I’m not sure how many Veterans made it the Laws & Rules Mtg this evening, or should
    I say lack thereof, but in response to my question proposed below during the
    Freeman’s Live Stream Chat this morning, I gather the Mayor said I am IGNORANT
    and have not read his Resolution.

    It can be viewed here at the 31:45 mark:

    NEWS FLASH… I DID READ IT!!! Although his Resolution was only posted 12 hours
    before my question was posed, and 24 hours before the very meeting to “create a
    dialogue” for such a “open” resolution to be developed and prevent the “many
    people from mistrusting government right from the get-go” does not aid his
    “Hopes for trust of the people he serves”…

    Still I have the same concerns… Here is why:

    – It hides behind the title of immigrant, which really comes in two flavors 1)
    Documented (Legal) and 2) Undocumented (Illegal).

    – Sanctuary City means to protect the undocumented (Illegal) immigrants. The term has no “legal meaning” per say, but applies generally to cities that do not use
    municipal funds or resources to enforce Federal Immigration Law, and usually
    forbids Police or Municipal Employees to inquire about a person’s immigration

    – By virtue of this resolution, why must a person commit a second crime to enforce
    the law for which the first crime was committed? This is a clear and
    present threat to our citizens and Documented (Legal) immigrants.

    – Safety and security for our citizens refers to more than just the response of our
    Emergency Services. Let us not forget the disease exposures and financial
    obligations that Undocumented persons present and levy upon the City of
    Kingston residents and taxpayers who you claim to be mandated to serve by
    virtue of your election.

    – You cannot follow the law only when it aligns with your personal beliefs. Be
    reminded that harboring foreign nationals has far greater consequences.

    In summary, my family too are immigrants, Documented and Legal, as many
    Kingstonians are, and that is NOT the issue. Immigration Laws, when
    followed, clearly answer the mail on this process. I however do not
    support, and firmly oppose any resolution WHEREAS you commit the City of
    Kingston assets and resources to aid or abet persons who are in violation of
    Federal Immigration Law to begin with… period!

    With Fortitude,
    Kingston Patriot

  7. Dennis

    What does the word illegal mean and is this something the mayor is supporting. Instead of supporting illegal migrants who contribute nothing to the tax base and by the way Maryor the tax base does pay your salary. Wouldn’t it be more prudent to concentrate In bringing more jobs to this community thereby improving the tax base and putting Less Financial stress on the local community. You should also be reminded that if the federal government new Administration subtract federal funds because of illegals in this community you should not put that financial burden on the local taxpayers in anyway this would totally be on you so you should be prepared to accept that responsibility and burden.

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