Yesterday New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order barring law enforcement officials from inquiring about the citizenship status of suspects during investigations. It would also apply to other state agencies outside of law enforcement in most cases. In other words, rather than just refusing to cooperate with ICE when they seek to deport illegal aliens, Cuomo is raising the bar and basically pretending that we don’t even have any immigration laws.
While I’m sure there were plenty of Social Justice Warriors in New York City cheering the announcement, it didn’t go over so well with everyone. That includes Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard. While most of Cuomo’s liberal base is found in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley, Erie County is in the furthest northwestern corner of the state, including the City of Buffalo. The Sheriff had a few things to say about the executive order and he made those feelings clear when he told his troops to ignore the Governor and keep enforcing the law as usual. (WGRZ News)
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard issued a directive on Friday afternoon telling law enforcement personnel to continue asking people about their immigration status during traffic stops, arrests and domestic incidents…
“Our officers have sworn a solemn oath to uphold the law,” said Sheriff Howard in a statement released to the media on Friday. “Today, I have instructed my Deputies to continue enforcing the law, irrespective of Governor Cuomo’s executive order.”
The directive by Sheriff Howard orders law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of people under investigation. Howard says the directive falls in line with the policy set by the federal government.
“There is no duty more important than protecting our citizens and upholding the rule of law,” said Howard. “As Sheriff, part of my job is enforcing our constitution and the law, regardless of what cheap political points Albany politicians are looking to score.”
The “cheap political points” comment is probably going to draw some fire from the Governor’s Mansion, but there’s some debate as to what Cuomo can actually do about it if the Sheriff refuses to obey. It’s an elected office, not an appointment from the Governor, but the state constitution does give the governor the power to remove a sheriff for cause.
Sheriffs shall hold no other office. They may be required by law to renew their security, from time to time; and in default of giving such new security, their offices shall be deemed vacant. The governor may remove any elective sheriff, county clerk, district attorney or register within the term for which he or she shall have been elected; but before so doing the governor shall give to such officer a copy of the charges against him or her and an opportunity of being heard in his or her defense.
It sounds like this would involve the Governor actually directing the District Attorney to bring charges against the Sheriff and somebody would have to figure out what law he’s broken. And the Sheriff also has to be given a chance to defend himself to the public first. So it’s not as simple as just signing an order and firing him. Plus, Cuomo will have to consider the incredibly ugly politics involved.
Of course, everything Cuomo is doing right now is 100% tied up in politics, much like his trip this week to the U.S. Virgin Islands to survey hurricane damage from Irma. What does the Governor of New York have to do with storm damage recovery in the Virgin Islands, you might ask? Nothing at all, except for the fact that he’s running for reelection next year and, according to most Empire State insiders, still sees himself as a viable candidate for President in 2020.
Given the number of skeletons in Cuomo’s closet that would be a dream opponent for Trump, but somehow I doubt the Democrats are in the mood to elect an old school, straight white male with huge Wall Street ties at the moment. Still, we’ll keep the oppo file ready just in case.
But as to Sheriff Howard, what happens next? Tough to say. At this point he’s in charge and his deputies will be going about their business and sniffing out illegal aliens when they find them. If Andrew Cuomo wants to go to war with him over this it could backfire in a massive public relations nightmare, but if he does nothing he’s left looking weak and ineffectual. Not an enviable position to be sure.