Andrew Cuomo (51864)
Credit: Pat Arnow

An executive order by New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo will prevent state agencies from asking about a person’s immigration status outside of certain conditions.

Building on Cuomo’s proposed goal of ensuring full protections for immigrants, executive order 170 prohibits state officers and agencies from inquiring about or disclosing someone’s immigration status unless required by law or it’s needed to determine eligibility. The executive order also prevents law enforcement officers from inquiring about a person’s immigrations status unless they’re investigating illegal criminal activity.

“As Washington squabbles over rolling back sensible immigration policy, we are taking action to help protect all New Yorkers from unwarranted targeting by government,” said Cuomo in a statement. “New York became the Empire State due to the contributions of immigrants from every corner of the globe and we will not let the politics of fear and intimidation divide us.”

Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, praised Cuomo for his executive order.

“We applaud Gov. Cuomo’s executive order to keep state agency officials from asking the immigration status of New Yorkers when they come in contact with agencies to report a crime, or request services,” said Figueroa in a statement. “As ICE agents continue to stalk immigrants at courthouses, public schools and hospitals—as part of the Trump administration’s mass deportation strategy—we’re seeing more and more people frightened away from any interaction with public entities. When people feel they cannot seek out help from law enforcement or medical services, it puts everyone in danger. We are glad to see our state officials defending basic human rights for all our all New Yorkers.”

Center for Popular Democracy Co-Executive Director Ana Maria Archila also praised Cuomo’s executive order, claiming victory for local lawmakers and immigrants.

“It is one of the strongest measures of its kind in the country and a victory for immigrants in New York, who have spent years organizing their communities behind this law,” said Archila in a statement. “It is also a victory for local legislators, who have led the way in introducing similar policies in their own hometowns. Local lawmakers will continue to advocate for the strongest possible protections for immigrants and policies that keep our communities strong.”

But one person in the legal sector isn’t a fan of Cuomo’s actions.

Rochester-based immigration attorney Anthony Guidice told Spectrum News that Cuomo’s action was unnecessary because it’s already illegal for officers to ask questions about someone’s immigration status.

“Local, state law enforcement has no business asking about anything regarding immigration status unless it relates to the crime that they’re investigating,” Guidice told Spectrum News.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard and Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, both Republicans, are against Cuomo’s executive order as well.