LIVINGSTON COUNTY – Those protesting Geneseo Police’s decision to call U.S. Border Patrol at a traffic stop last Thursday are asking for five specific policy changes in all village police departments in Livingston County.
An online petition, first drafted by SUNY Geneseo math professor Tony Macula and fine-tuned by others, asks that village police not investigate suspected violations of immigration law because ‘simply being an undocumented person is not a crime.’
“We are gravely concerned that public safety will be put at risk by entanglements between Livingston County Police Departments (LCPDs) and federal immigration enforcement agencies (FIEAs) and we urge you to minimize interactions between your departments and these agencies to those absolutely required by law,” says the petition. “LCPDs are (criminal) law enforcement agencies and it is important to note that simply being an undocumented person is not a crime. We are concerned that if LCPDs become identified with immigration enforcement, then victims of crimes–real crimes, whether they are undocumented individuals or U.S. citizens with undocumented friends or relatives–will not report these crimes or cooperate with criminal investigations. This leaves criminals at large, free to continue to threaten our community.”
The five specific requests in the petition are:
1. In regard to minor offenses (e.g., traffic violations) LCPDs will prohibit its officers from contacting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for interpretation assistance or alert ICE or CBP to individuals suspected or known to be undocumented.
2. LCPDs officers refrain from inquiring into a person’s immigration status unless required by law.
3. LCPDs decline any request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to enter into a 287(g) agreement. The 287(g) program deputizes local law enforcement officers to act as federal immigration agents within their local jurisdictions. Currently, there are no 287(g) agreements in New York State.
4. LCPDs clarify to its officers that they should not investigate violations of federal immigration law.
5. The resources of LCPDs will not be used to create or assist in the creation of any federal registry based on race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.
The petition was launched on March 26 and so far has 257 signatures.
The petition links to NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Guidance Concerning Local Authority Participation In Immigration Enforcement And Model Sanctuary Provisions, saying that ‘in the interest of public safety, the New York State Attorney General has issued clear and pointed guidance on how local police can minimize entanglements with FIEAs and we urge LCPDs to publicly adopt the Attorney General’s guidance.’
“The Attorney General’s Office recognizes that by protecting the rights and well-being of immigrant families, we build trust in law enforcement and other public agencies, thus enhancing public safety for all,” says Schneiderman in the opening page of the Guidance document. “As you know, justice cannot be served when a victim of domestic violence or a witness to a shooting does not call the police because she fears that doing so will attract the
attention of officials who wish to deport her family members. That’s why standing together in this time of uncertainty is our most effective tool for keeping our communities safe.”