The Liberty Act: What You Need to Know

State Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Queens) is backing New York's Liberty Act to beef up safeguards for undocumented immigrants. (MICHAEL GRAAE/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Liberal-leaning states all over the nation are scrambling to codify laws to make themselves into “sanctuary states,” or states that will not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement policy and work to protect undocumented residents. New York, a predominantly liberal state where politics are complicated by the Republic controlled State Senate, does not have such a law on the books now, but the New York Liberty Act, if passed, promises to turn New York into a “sanctuary state.”

What is the New York State Liberty Act?

Assemblyman Francisco Moya drafted legislation to protect New York’s undocumented population by curtailing the use of local and state law enforcement for federal immigration enforcement, prohibiting state and local law enforcement from stopping or arresting anyone on suspicion over their immigration status, and require law enforcement to maintain the confidentiality of people’s immigration status.

Will it pass?

Although it recently passed through the Democrat-controlled Assembly, the bill is likely to have extreme difficulty passing the Republican-controlled State Senate. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said that he will not bring the bill to the floor for a vote. If the bill is voted on, Democrats will likely need help from both Republicans in the State Senate and members of the Independent Democratic Conference in order to pass the bill through the Senate. If the bill does pass through the Senate, it is likely that Governor Cuomo, a Democrat who has publicly promised to make New York a sanctuary state, would sign it.

What can you do to make this bill law?

If New York is going to become a real sanctuary state, voters are going to have to pressure their State Senators to support the bill. First check who your State Senator is here. Call their office and let them know that as a constituent you expect your State Senator to support this bill and bills like it. The last few weeks have shown that protecting undocumented people will be difficult but not impossible and state law is one of the most effective forms of resistance. But progress doesn’t happen by itself in New York, and it will never be a sanctuary state unless State Senators start feeling a groundswell of pressure to protect undocumented people.