Albany Law Review is in a privileged position: to facilitate and encourage important contemporary legal discussions, not only through written publications, but also through our annual Fall and Spring Symposiums. In this spirit, as the Executive Editor for Symposium, I sought--with the assistance of our Editor in Chief, Emma Tiner, and faculty advisor, Vincent Bonventre--to choose a topic of current, local, and practical importance to the legal community. With these criteria in mind, it was easy to settle on the subject of sanctuary cities.
Albany, New York, as well as dozens of other cities, towns, and counties, is standing strong in its status as a sanctuary city. As the following discussion explores, "sanctuary city" does not have a single definition, legally or colloquially. The Mayor of Albany, Mayor Sheehan, signed an Executive Order in April 2017 reaffirming that Albany's city police will not inquire into a suspect's immigration status unless it is relevant to some other criminal probe. (1) Some sanctuary jurisdictions go so far as to refuse to turn immigrants in custody over to federal authorities. Others merely refuse to inquire into immigration status for municipal privileges. However, one thing each sanctuary jurisdiction has in common is conflict with the federal government under the Trump Administration.
Less than a week after the Albany Law Review Symposium on Sanctuary Cities, the Department of Justice sent a letter to twenty-nine proclaimed sanctuary jurisdictions, including Albany, threatening to suspend the funding they receive through the Department of Justice. (2) Already in early March of 2018, the Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against California alleging interference with enforcement of federal immigration laws. (3)
In a world deeply divided over issues of immigration, population migration, and the thousands of refugees displaced by natural disasters and war, it is now more important than ever to host conversations about not only the legal duties of U.S. cities, but also the ethical responsibilities that local politicians owe to the people living in their constituencies, both U.S. citizens and immigrants of all legal status.
On behalf of Albany Law Review, I would like to thank each of our speakers, the Honorable Kathy M. Sheehan '94, Mayor of the City of Albany; Dina Francesca Haynes, Professor of Law, New England Law, Boston; Jeremy McLean, Staff Attorney, Worker Justice Center of New York; and Philip L...