The debate over whether Troy should become a Sanctuary City could come to a head Thursday.
Last November, Democratic City Councilor David Bissember put forth a new resolution that would designate Troy as a Sanctuary City.
Almost immediately, Republican Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello came out in opposition to the proposal.
It would require Troy police and other public services to not inquire about the immigration status of individuals. The measure also mentions Republican Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo’s agreement with the federal government that allows trained law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration law.
Earlier in 2018, Rensselaer County became the first in the state to enter what’s known as a 287(g) agreement with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. Russo has said the program applies to people being held in the Rensselaer County jail. The sanctuary resolution labels the policy a threat to public safety.
The city council’s Public Safety Committee voted in favor of the measure 2-1, and it was sent on to the Council for a full vote. During a public comment period, Troy resident Jason Belanger argued for a public referendum. “Whether you’re on the right or you’re on the left of it, it doesn’t matter. We’re not allowing the people to speak. And if there is a way that that can happen, then I think this council should do it."
The council voted to delay action. Sanctuary has remained in limbo ever since, and the measure was tabled again in early June. Mantello: "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."
Democratic Mayor Patrick Madden previously said he had issues with calling Troy a sanctuary city, while Republican County Executive Steve McLaughlin has been a staunch opponent of the idea. Here’s McLaughlin: "Aside from a few people that think that they know where the pulse of the people is, I can assure you they don't."
Last week, Council Pro Tem Anasha Cummings announced that the original draft entitled "Resolution Affirming the City of Troy as a Sanctuary City" had been renamed. "We have come to a deal amongst the Democratic caucus to move forward with some amended language for a resolution which we are now calling the Families and Communities Together Act. FACT... it's about fact over fiction. There are fictions being thrown out around the community around the nation about the role of immigrants in our community. There are people who try to convince us that immigrants are a danger or immigrants are undercutting our community, when the fact is it is exactly the opposite. Immigrants here in Troy and throughout the nation are the people who make our nation strong, the people who build vibrancy, who build everything that it is to be the United States."
For his part, Madden has been cautious on the proposal.
And there is one possible delay: Mantello plans to introduce a new local law at tonight's council meeting that would set the stage for three public hearings so that residents can decide whether or not they want Troy to be a Sanctuary City.