Tompkins Sheriff issues immigration policy statement as Ithaca reaffirms sanctuary city status

Ithaca’s Sanctuary City status is now written into law, and the Tompkins County Sheriff says his office is “committed to helping all people in their time of need, regardless of their immigration status.”

“Last night was the most inspiring and humbling meeting I’ve seen in five years of serving on the Ithaca Common Council,” said alderperson Seph Murtagh on Facebook this morning, after the Common Council meeting where the new ordinance, drafted with the help of New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman, was unanimously approved.

“This is an ordinance — not just a statement — but an actual ordinance that will ensure Ithaca remains a sanctuary for all hard-working people,” said Mayor Svante Myrick on Tuesday. “This ordinance is entirely legal — unlike Trump’s executive orders. And if we need to, we’ll prove it in court.”

“Thanks to all the speakers who turned out to support a strong sanctuary city ordinance and our resolution urging Congress to vote against repeal of the Affordable Care Act,” alderperson Murtagh added. “The public comment was incredibly heartfelt and moving, and I’m proud that both actions passed unanimously.”

On Thursday, Sheriff Ken Lansing issued an “open letter to the citizens of Tompkins County” that makes it clear that “our practice and ethos is to treat everyone fairly and hold everyone accountable to the same standards and law,” and “we do not inquire about immigration status unless it is directly relevant to an investigation and under no other circumstance.”

Sheriff Lansing added that he appreciates that members of the Tompkins County Legislature have met with him while considering a resolution about immigration policy. “We have enjoyed a good working relationship with the county legislature on a variety of difficult issues and we will continue to work with them on this issue as well for the benefit of all our citizens, including our immigrant population.”

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