ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday issued an executive order that prohibits state agencies and officers from inquiring or disclosing an individual's immigration status unless required by law or necessary to determine eligibility for a benefit or service, the governor's office said.
The order means state law enforcement officers will be prohibited from inquiring about immigration status unless investigating criminal activity. The prohabition applies to victims of crimes or witnesses to crimes, the governor's office said.
"As Washington squabbles over rolling back sensible immigration policy, we are taking action to help protect all New Yorkers from unwarranted targeting by government," Cuomo said in a press relase. "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."
The state police, which are among the agencies covered by the order, already has such a policy in place, officials said.
The move also mirrors practices of some local police departments.
The city of Albany passed a formal resolution in 2009 banning the practice. The resolution called immigration a federal issue, not a city one.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan's chief of staff Brian Shea has said the policy encourages people to report crimes when they see them.
Shea issued a statement Friday praising the governor.
"Mayor Sheehan applauds the actions taken by Governor Cuomo to ensure that all New Yorkers feel safe. This is a great step forward for our state."
Schenectady police also have a similar policy, Chief Eric Clifford said.
"It is in line with what we currently do. Almost exactly," Clifford said. "We do not inquire into immigration status unless we are investigating a criminal offense."