In response to unrest generated in Washington, Albany County has launched a webpage designed to assist local undocumented immigrants.
County Executive Dan McCoy, a Democrat, says the new page on the county website was established in response to White House policies and the possibility of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids being conducted locally. The page is dedicated to connecting those who may be detained and those representing detainees with the proper resources. "You know we actually after the president decided to do a raid on immigrants, we've had an immigration office now for the last over two years. We were the first in I believe the state of New York in Albany County to have this office, but we just don't represent here in Albany County, we represent 13 other counties going up to the Champlain border, so we want to roll it out so if something happened, our attorneys were available, our resources were available to help anyone that might have been retained by ICE immigration."
Speaking to WAMC at a community forum, City of Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins said his officers do not act on behalf of federal officers. "I've had my staff collect data on how often and how many times we are contacted by federal officials about any immigration-type issue, whether it's ICE or any other federal agency, because I wanna know how frequent this is happening. And in my 10 months here we haven't had any inquiries from ICE or any other federal agency about any operations in our city, so we haven't had any contact whatsoever."
McCoy adds although Albany and the Capital Region have not been specifically targeted, he's not leaving anything to chance. He says recent events out of Washington have left him "numb." "When you become the president of the United States there's a way you have to act, and he's running it like the reality TV show, his apprenticeship program, and it's not. He's our president and he needs to shop the shenanigans and be the leader and bring people together, not divide us more. He's supposed to bring us together, and this president's just dividing us not just on moral issues, on a variety, you know EPA, from the bomb trains to the opiate epidemic, everything that's going on in this world and he's just focusing on a wall and immigrants, and we need to address these issues because they're very important."
Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, a Democrat, says the president's tweets urging four congresswomen to "go back" where they came from are highly divisive. "It's really unfortunate. I think that's the same kind of garbage that's been spewed at Italian immigrants, Irish immigrants and Middle Eastern immigrants like my family, for decades. There really is no place for that in our country."
The new webpage has a “Know Your Rights” section for immigrants in case they are approached by ICE officials, including their rights to remain silent and not engage with the federal agent. There is also a section for “Emergency Preparedness,” if someone is concerned that they may be detained or deported, as well as a range of resources for those representing immigrants in legal matters and the full list of counties being served.
McCoy advises those who are detained by ICE are encouraged to call the Immigration Assistance Hotline at 1-833-373-2677 for help. The webpage can be found at this link: