New York's Suffolk County Reverses its Sanctuary Policy

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

January 3, 2017

In the first of what will be many reversals of sanctuary city policies, Suffolk County (N.Y.) Sheriff Vincent DeMarco said that his jurisdiction will no longer require a judge’s order before detaining inmates wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation. DeMarco’s decision reverses the procedure he established in 2014. Criminal alien prisoners can now be held up to 48 hours if ICE so requests.

Suffolk County Sheriff DeMarco sees the light, reverses his sanctuary policy.


DeMarco has the support of County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini and County Executive Steve Bellone, once pro-illegal immigration, who called it “a step in the right direction.”

Although DeMarco claimed that he based his decision on a legal analysis and not political considerations, the two variables can’t be separated. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to end sanctuary cities which, as any legal review would show, violate federal immigration law, specifically 8 U.S. Code 1373. Trump, in his Contract with the American Voter, pledged to cancel federal funding to all sanctuary cities.

News reports described immigration advocacy groups as outraged. Advocates charged Sheriff DeMarco with scapegoating immigrants to score political points to advance his career. Tough times lay ahead for the immigration lobby. The incoming Trump administration is the new game in town, and has said, repeatedly and explicitly, that it will not tolerate sanctuary cities.

Sheriff DeMarco wisely bowed to the inevitable, as will other counties and local law enforcement agencies. With a new administration committed to upholding immigration law, and with the law crystal clear that sanctuaries are illegal, it’s a battle alien advocates can’t win.


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