Is New York State Really a Sanctuary for All? Understanding the Implications for Undocumented Communities


Spring 2018

In a climate of increasing anti-immigrant sentiment and with an administration who has explicitly spoken out against sanctuary cities and states, New York officials are facing significant challenges protecting immigrants. This Capstone partnered with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) to aggregate existing New York county-level policies regarding undocumented immigrants in order to provide a greater understanding to what extent these policies and their practice actually offer protections and ultimately to support more effective organizing and advocacy at the local level. The NYIC identified a gap in their resources and knowledge of current local policy contexts throughout the state that was affecting their member organizations’ ability to effectively counter anti-immigrant campaigns and protect undocumented immigrants. They sought help to build a tool to capture institutional knowledge of policies across all New York counties.

The Capstone team was tasked with conducting research on immigration-related local and law enforcement policies across New York State and compiling it into a searchable database for the NYCIC and its member organizations to access. They conducted primary research through interviews with members of the NYIC, community organizers across the state, the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau, the New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, and county executive offices, while simultaneously reviewing secondary sources such as news articles and available policy announcements to collect information regarding county officials’ approaches to supporting undocumented individuals in their jurisdictions. Upon completion, the Capstone team provided the NYIC with a standalone database with much of this initial phase of research that is intended to be an easy-to-update tool as policies are revised and created in the future.