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New York gives legal guidance to sanctuary cities for immigrants

By Mica Rosenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York's attorney general on Thursday published legal guidance for local cities and towns that want to combat tougher federal immigration enforcement expected in the new administration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Eric Schneiderman released a memo that provides model language for laws and policies that could be enacted in jurisdictions in New York state, but could also serve as a template for other cities around the country.

New York and other cities like Los Angeles and Chicago have sharply curbed cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities seeking to deport illegal immigrants, saying they want to protect the well being of hundreds of thousands of residents.

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President Barack Obama's administration has used so-called detainer requests to hold immigrants in jail to give federal authorities time to check their legal status.

Trump early in his campaign pledged to deport all 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States but modified that stance in other statements, saying he would focus on deporting criminals.

One of the guidelines in Schneiderman's memo suggests not holding undocumented inmates for the U.S. Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement unless the detainer request is accompanied by a judge's order.

The guidelines also suggest limiting local agencies' collection of immigration-related information to prevent discrimination.

Several mayors from smaller cities in New York state praised the legal help.

"As long as I am Mayor, we will not use our resources to enforce federal anti-immigrant policies," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner in a statement.

The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schneiderman's announcement came before a planned rally outside Trump Tower in support of immigrant rights and other civil rights. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has vowed to protect the nearly 3 million immigrants living in New York, is scheduled to speak at the protest.

Cities also want to encourage immigrants to work with law enforcement to report crimes without fearing deportation.

Trump at a campaign event in Phoenix in August said he would block funding for sanctuary cities. "Cities that refuse to cooperate with federal authorities will not receive taxpayer dollars," Trump said.

In 2015 lawmakers tried to cut federal spending for sanctuary cities, including funding for housing, economic development and law enforcement, but the bill failed to clear the U.S. Senate.

Cities United for Immigration Action, a coalition of around 100 mayors, municipalities and counties, said that the bill, would have cost cities hundreds of millions of dollars.

(Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Andrew Hay)

 
 
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