By Rebecca Martin
Our recent educational forum “On Immigration” was focused around the Ulster County Legislature’s Resolution No. 138 “Creating A Policy To Maintain A Safe, Inclusive Government to Ensure The Protection, Order, Conduct, Safety, Health, And Well- Being Of All Persons In Ulster County” structured around ACLU guidelines. VIEW
With guest panelists District #7 Ulster County Legislator Jennifer Schwartz Berky and Ulster County Sheriff Paul J. Van Blarcum, it was my favorite educational panel discussion so far this year, where we had the opportunity to focus on a single piece of local legislation with at times two opposing points of view.
Resolution No. 138 is important and worthy, but it doesn’t have the support it needs to pass through committee to the legislative floor. It also doesn’t have the Sheriff’s support for reasons you might not suspect.
Empowered by New York State law and the County charter, the Sheriff’s office is independent in the way of policy making and procedure (though in reviewing the county CHARTER, it does state that “the Sheriff shall have and exercise all the powers and duties heretofore or hereafter lawfully granted or imposed by the Charter, Administrative Code, local law or resolution of the County Legislature“. My interpretation is that the Legislature would have oversight in some cases). In the resolution, there are several points in the model language that the Sheriff feels would infringe upon his office.
I wish that the Ulster County Legislature would have taken its time with this, starting with a small item that they and the Sheriff’s office could agree to. For instance, sensitivity training on immigration by all county officers was something that was brought up on Sunday by a community member. All the while, building support both internally and externally for a Resolution as important as No. 138 to have a fighting chance.
VIEW: Ulster County Resolution No. 138
VIEW: Jennifer Schwartz Berky Powerpoint on Immigration
VIEW: ACLU Model State and Local Law Enforcement Policies and Rules
VIEW: “Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Guidance Concerning Local Authority Participation in Immigration Enforcement and Model Sanctuary Provisions”
VIEW: 10th Amendment
VIEW: Ulster County Charter Article XX “Sheriff”