Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan issued the second executive order of his administration on Wednesday, June 26, declaring an official policy of non-cooperation between county government and United States immigration authorities. The order prohibits all county employees from sharing information or otherwise cooperating with the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The executive order comes days after revelations of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at a Texas facility for migrant children amid tweeted threats of a massive roundup of undocumented immigrants subject to removal orders by President Donald J. Trump.
“In light of statements and threats coming out of Washington, D.C., we are here to make a clear, unequivocal statement about our values as a county and about our values as a community,” said Ryan speaking to a crowd of immigration advocates at the Ulster County Community Justice and Community Empowerment Center in Midtown Kingston. “We reject division, we reject fear-mongering, we reject xenophobia.”
The executive order forbids county employees from sharing information with ICE officials. As an example, Ryan said, Ulster County probation officials would be barred from telling ICE agents when a probationer’s next scheduled appointment was. Ryan said that the federal agency had sought out that sort of information to detain of individuals wanted on administrative warrants for removal.
Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa joined Ryan at the press conference. Figueroa said that his office had implemented its own non-cooperation policy in February. Figueroa noted that local law enforcement had neither the jurisdiction nor the responsibility to enforce immigration law and suggested that helping ICE round up undocumented immigrants based on an administrative warrant — as opposed to a court order signed by a judge — could violate the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Figueroa added that nothing in the new policies would prevent local law enforcement from going after people, regardless of immigration status, engaged in criminal activity that falls under its jurisdiction.
“Whether you’re undocumented or a citizen, if you break the law you will be taken to task,” said Figueroa. “That doesn’t change.”