- Associated Press - Monday, February 6, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Members of the New York state Assembly say potential consequences of sanctuary policies to beef up protections for undocumented immigrants are worth the risk.

The Assembly on Monday passed a package of proposals to prohibit authorities from questioning immigration status when people receive state or local services or contact law enforcement for assistance. One measure would also limit law enforcement from complying with federal detainer requests and limit federal officials’ access to individuals detained in state correctional facilities. The bills would expand protections to the extent that Democratic Assemblyman Francisco Moya called for New York to become a “sanctuary state.”

“If New York is not prepared to act swiftly in protecting all vulnerable communities from the brunt of President Trump’s rhetoric and executive orders, we will have betrayed ourselves and those who have entrusted us with the future of our state,” Moya said.

Moya also is sponsoring a proposal to prohibit local agencies from contributing information on race, sexual orientation, religion or ethnic origin to federal registries.

Another bill by Democratic Assemblyman Marcos Crespo would reduce the maximum sentence for low-level misdemeanors to less than a year, allowing for judicial discretion rather than immediate and mandatory deportation. Supporters say the change in state law could keep thousands of immigrants from being deported under federal law.

Many Republican assembly members adamantly opposed the package, calling it unsafe and unfair to law enforcement.

“It is both frightening and appalling that my colleagues in the Majority prefer to harbor repeat criminals by proposing ‘sanctuary’ policies for the state of New York, instead of focusing on legislation that would keep safe the hard-working, taxpaying citizens who elected them,” Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said.

Republican Assemblyman Al Graf predicted the bills would never pass the Senate and called them dangerous political theatrics.

Graf said he fears President Donald Trump would follow through on his threats to restrict essential federal funding from cities that do not comply with federal immigration policy.

“We’ve seen the actions of the new president and I don’t think he’s bluffing when it comes to taking away federal money from the states,” Graf said.

Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie said the state could try to make up a loss of federal funding in the budget, should the circumstances arise.

The Assembly also passed the state’s DREAM Act to extend financial help for college students in the country illegally. The DREAM Act has received support from Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but opposition in the Senate.

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