Is New York A 'Sanctuary City' For Illegal Immigrants?

Thursday, November 29th 2007, 3:24 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rudy Giuliani, under fire for protecting illegal immigrants as mayor, insists that New York was not a refuge for people in the U.S. illegally. ``New York City was not a sanctuary city,'' Giuliani said, twice, during Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate.

In reality, while it has never adopted the moniker, New York offers protections similar to those in cities that label themselves sanctuary cities.

The pugnacious Giuliani managed to deflect some of the criticism in the debate, pointing out that his rival Mitt Romney had illegal immigrants work on his lawn.

``So I would say he had a sanctuary mansion, not just a sanctuary city,'' Giuliani teased the former Massachusetts governor, eliciting protests from Romney that he shouldn't have to ask his lawn care company for workers' papers.


In the debate, Giuliani said: ``New York City was not a sanctuary city. New York City did three exceptions. The three exceptions were to allow children to go to school, to allow those illegal immigrants who were the victims of crime to report the person who assaulted them, beat them up, mugged them.

``And, third, to allow emergency care in the hospitals, which we were required to do by federal law. We had a policy of reporting every single illegal immigrant other than those three who commit any kind of crime or were suspected of crime, and we reported thousands of them to immigration service. Few of them were deported.''


What Giuliani describes as ``exceptions’’, people reporting crimes, sending kids to school or seeking medical treatment, are not exceptions. Those protections are the very reason people call New York a sanctuary city.

New York is widely acknowledged to be a sanctuary city because for nearly 20 years, city workers have been prevented from reporting illegal immigrants in the ways Giuliani described. Some cities, such as San Francisco, have declared themselves sanctuaries or refuges. Others, like New York, have never adopted the ``sanctuary'' designation.

The Congressional Research Service, an arm of Congress, says New York is a sanctuary city. CRS included New York on a list of cities and counties with sanctuary policies just last year.

``Most cities that are considered sanctuary cities have adopted a 'don't ask-don't tell' policy where they don't require their employees, including law enforcement officers, to report to federal officials aliens who may be illegally present in the country,'' CRS analysts wrote in the 2004 report.

New York's policy was issued by Democratic Mayor Ed Koch in 1988 with the aim of making illegal immigrants feel they could report crimes, send their children to school or seek medical treatment without fear of being reported.

Giuliani went to court to safeguard the policy, suing over a 1996 attempt by Congress to undo the city's protections.

At the time, Giuliani said the policy ``protects undocumented immigrants in New York City from being reported to the INS while they are using city services that are critical for their health and safety, and for the health and safety of the entire city.''

He lost, but Mayor Mike Bloomberg later issued a new, broader version of the policy that is still in effect.