By Rick Pezzullo
The Westchester County Board of Legislators fell one vote short of overriding County Executive Rob Astorino’s veto of the controversial Immigration Protection Act.
Legislators voted 11-6 on September 25, squashing the bill that would restrain Westchester from using its resources for immigration enforcement. All nine Democrats supported the effort, along with Republicans Jim Maisano (New Rochelle) and David Gelfarb (Rye).
“While we are not surprised by tonight’s outcome, it truly is disappointing for the people of Westchester County,” members of the Democratic Caucus said in a joint statement. “Studies from all over the country show that our immigrant neighbors are less likely to assist local police departments when they feel that it may result in immigration consequences. Upholding the veto makes none of us safer.”
Following President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting travel by refugees and immigrants from certain countries, Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) introduced the Immigrant Protection Act in February, a measure that would prevent the county from expending resources to assist in federal investigations based on race, gender, religious, ethnicity or national origin. It was approved 10-5 by the board on August 7 but was later vetoed by Astorino.
Astorino issued an executive order two weeks ago stating that county law enforcement will cooperate with federal authorities in investigations and apprehending illegal immigrants involved in criminal activity. The order also prohibits officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status unless they are required by law to do so or investigating illegal activity.
Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson) maintained Astorino’s executive order was a failure that needs to be redrafted.
“As President Trump’s Executive Orders will make America less safe, the County Executive’s Executive Order will do the same for us in Westchester,” members of the Democratic Caucus stated. “This fight is not over.”