New Paltz Deputy supervisor Dan Torres wants to enshrine in law the fact that town police officers don’t inquire into immigration status as a matter of course. Violent offenders, when apprehended, would still be turned over to immigration officials if found to be in this country illegally. The draft he offered was created by the state attorney general and has been adopted in several municipalities around the state.
Jeff Logan came out in support of the concept, but not the form. Since nothing would change on the ground, he asked, why not pass a memorializing resolution rather than a law, which can carry a cost in the thousands of dollars?
Torres believes that a law carries psychological weight. “I spoke with a high school student who is worried about her parents” being deported because they are illegal aliens, he said, and a law would engender peace of mind. Without it, any such alien might be fearful to call the police for any reason, much less seek out services such as emergency food supplies. He’s also gotten reports that some local illegal aliens are reluctant to go to parent-teacher nights at school out of fear they will be arrested. “These are the people who are least likely to attend public meetings,” he said.
Threats by the president to pull federal funding are “simply unconstitutional,” Torres added.
Supervisor Neil Bettez was sympathetic to Logan’s point, saying a resolution was his preference, but “people need to hear, ‘it’s the law.’ I would not trust a policy,” he said, were he in that position. He also said that according to the town comptroller, there are no federal funds received by the town.
A hearing was set for Thursday, April 6, 7 p.m., at the New Paltz Community Center.