On Aug. 16, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino vetoed the Immigrant Protection Act approved by the Board of Legislators. Days before, Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino created a new bureau, the Office of Immigrant Affairs, in order for undocumented immigrants to report crimes without fear of deportation. While it’s a move in the right direction, it’s far from sufficient to improve public safety.
Undocumented immigrants are extremely fearful of law enforcement officials because the federal government is demanding that local officials assist in enforcing President Trump’s draconian immigration agenda. In response, some towns and villages in Westchester have made public statements and policies that their local police will maintain and develop helpful relationships with all immigrants, efforts that will be seriously hampered if Westchester County does not have the IPA.
In the current political climate, the chances that an immigrant will contact the DA’s office, a part of the government they see as trying to deport them, are highly unlikely. It’s more probable that immigrants will report crimes to local police, who they see on a daily basis and may have friendly interactions with.
If we want our immigrant neighbors to report crimes they have either witnessed or been the victim of, we need the IPA. Overriding Astorino’s veto is the surest way to make our communities and our county safe for all. Contact your legislator today and tell him or her to vote to override Astorino’s politically-motivated and counter-productive IPA veto.
The writer is co-point person for the social justice and immigration committee of Croton-on-Hudson Indivisible.