New Paltz is a de facto sanctuary community for undocumented immigrants

Downtown New Paltz (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Members of the New Paltz village and town boards reaffirmed and expanded a previously-passed resolution regarding refugee resettlement at their January 19 joint meeting. As members of the public also spoke about the possibility of New Paltz becoming a “sanctuary city” like Kingston, where police do not inquire into immigration status, that question was also addressed.

Town Supervisor Neil Bettez doesn’t think an official action is necessary for sanctuary to be provided to illegal aliens in New Paltz. He asked police chief Joseph Snyder if his officers enforce immigration law, and was told that they do not. “Violent felons are reported,” Bettez said, which is in line with policies of the Obama administration, but otherwise no one is asked for papers proving their immigration status. Declaring New Paltz a sanctuary community would be “just a statement” since nothing would change, and the supervisor said, “I’d prefer to keep that statement in the back pocket until we need it.”

Deputy Supervisor Daniel Torres stressed that the action recently taken by members of the Kingston Common Council was to pass a resolution, which is in fact simply a statement, and not legally binding. The next step would actually be to pass a law constraining police from such lines of questioning, a process that requires a public hearing and several hundred dollars for publication and attorney’s fees, as few elected legislators are willing to actually write laws themselves. What’s more, state attorney general Eric Schneiderman has since released guidelines for becoming a sanctuary city without jeopardizing federal aid, which is a concern while Donald Trump is in office.


However, Torres also noted, “We did it in the past. It’s called ‘Huguenot Street.’” ++

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