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East Hampton says police won’t detain immigrants based on status

East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo, left,

East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo, left, speaks at a Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee meeting held at the Montauk Public School in Montauk, May 2, 2016. At right is East Hampton Town Police Sgt. Joe Kearney, the Montauk precinct commander. Photo Credit: Gordon M. Grant

East Hampton Town officials said its police force does not plan to detain residents based solely on immigration status or otherwise act as federal immigration officers, despite a request from the Trump administration for municipalities to enter into partnership agreements with federal authorities.

“The policy of the town and the police has not changed today from what it was six months ago or a year ago,” Supervisor Larry Cantwell said at a recent standing-room-only town board meeting. “It’s the same under President Obama as it is under President Trump.”

In his first month in office, the president has signed executive orders calling for the construction of a wall along the Mexican border, a travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and the hiring of 10,000 immigration agents.

In a Jan. 25 executive order, Trump called for local authorities to enter into partnership agreements with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers and investigate, apprehend and detain undocumented immigrants. The agreements were established in 1996.

No municipalities in New York State have agreed to the partnerships.

“The president’s executive order did not give local police departments any specific immigration enforcement powers, nor did it change any state or local laws,” East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo said in an email Tuesday.

But unlike so-called “sanctuary cities,” which shelter undocumented residents from federal authorities and do not honor federal immigration requests to detain them, the East Hampton police department honors such requests if officers are making an arrest for charges that require fingerprinting.

“We have and will continue to cooperate with federal enforcement agencies in any way possible,” Sarlo said.

More than 50 residents crammed into Town Hall on Feb. 16 to ask the board to protect the Town’s undocumented immigrants and to clarify which crimes could result in deportation.

Minerva Perez, executive director of the Organization of Latino Americans of Eastern Long Island, asked the town to disregard federal immigration detainer requests without judicial warrants and to use police discretion before fingerprinting.

Julia Chachere, a nurse practitioner at Hudson River Health Care in Southampton, warned of “seeing mass fear and panic really quickly.”

“It’s up to us to put out very clear guidelines about safety and what constitutes a crime and what doesn’t,” she said.

Cantwell said the town will continue to consult with the community and state and federal officials on its immigration policy.

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