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Sanctuary City Measure Off Troy City Council Agenda Tonight

Composite photo by Dave Lucas

The Troy City Council has once again tabled a vote on a Sanctuary City resolution.

The Sanctuary City resolution was introduced by Councilman David Bissember, a Democrat. It was originally taken up December 6th, then tabled pending "additional study." According to the measure, Sanctuary City status would prohibit police and other city employees from questioning people about their immigration status.

Republican Council President Carmella Mantello has been dead-set against the resolution.  "We're a very welcoming city, we're a very inclusive city, so designating us a Sanctuary City is not certainly in the best interests of our city as a whole. Our law enforcement officials and others have expressed extreme concern. Our sheriff will continue to do what he's doing now, so will our city police force. This has really turned our city into a very divisive city with this issue."

Bissember argued his resolution intends to  “re-affirm Troy’s commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming city to all residents" that it would "build upon the work of the community policing philosophy."

But after months of work to finalize the measure for a vote Thursday night, the council’s Democratic majority says it’s not ready yet.  Bissember:   "We met with advocates, the administration and council members to move forward and continue the productive discussions on how best we can move forward. The reason we're not voting on it tonight is because of those productive discussions. It's what all parties agreed would be best in an effort to work towards a better outcome."

Democratic Troy Mayor Patrick Madden, facing a primary election June 25th, has been active in those "productive discussions."   "We're trying to find language that is agreeable and reasonable. I do have some issues with the notion of calling Troy a Sanctuary City. But I think on substantive matters, what they're looking for are things that largely we're already doing, so. There's a lot of misunderstanding around the term Sanctuary City. It has no real legal, real defined legal meaning, so people tend to project on it, uh, what they uh, their own prejudices, their own proclivities, their own philosophy, and I think it would help us to move away from that language and talk about what we do and don't do here in Troy."

Democrat Anasha Cummings, the Council Pro Tem, counters the resolution has always been based on sound legal analysis.   "The resolution has been very much based on sound legal analysis of what it is that the city can and should be doing to make our community safer, both in terms of making sure that we are not actively participating in the deportation of non-criminal immigrants, and, therefore, making sure that everyone is a community member here feels comfortable interacting with local services, knowing that current policy and policy moving forward the police department and any other city agencies will not be engaging in any actions with regard to ICE or immigration."”

Republican Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin told WAMC the resolution is the wrong approach, branding it "an infringement on every county taxpayer.”   “It’s the county that pays these bills, it’s not the city. The city doesn’t write a check for anything. I wish they would pay their bills quite frankly. It’s the county that’s paying the social services, the welfare, the probation, the child protective and everything else."

Bissember says it’s unclear exactly when the measure will be back on the table.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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