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Congressman Tom Reed criticized New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday for what Reed called "his blatant disregard for our law enforcement community." In a recent radio interview, Cuomo stated he would "do nothing to cooperate with ICE" and the state should do anything "short of breaking the law" when dealing with the federal agency.
Also on Tuesday NYS Senator Pam Helming blasted legislation introduced in the Senate and Assembly that would grant parole eligibility to all inmates age 55 and older who have been in prison for at least 15 years, regardless of their crimes. This legislation could mean the release of hundreds of hardened criminals, including child molesters, murderers, rapists, and drug traffickers.
This month, Cuomo issued a Cease and Desist Letter to ICE, threatening to sue the federal agency if they don't put an end to what he refers to as unconstitutional enforcement actions.
"Governor Cuomo continues to put the citizens of New York at risk for his own political gain," said Reed. "We are a nation of laws. By directing the state police to not cooperate with ICE and preventing ICE from arresting undocumented immigrants inside New York courthouses, our Governor is showing an unacceptable disregard for the brave men and women of our law enforcement community."
Cuomo announced a new program Tuesday that will provide free legal services, immigration clinics, know-your-rights seminars and other immigrant services at consulates and religious institutions in New York City. This groundbreaking partnership between the Governor's first-in-the-nation Liberty Defense Project and the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights will reach the most vulnerable immigrants who may otherwise not be accessing these services.
"While the federal administration advances policies designed to make it harder for immigrants to come here, New York State recognizes that our diversity has always been our greatest strength and that it is in our interest both economically and culturally to protect that legacy," Cuomo said. "Too many immigrant families are unfairly targeted and victimized despite the fact that we are a nation of immigrants, and this new program will allow some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers to get the legal assistance they need in a safe and supportive space."
"We hear a lot in Albany about 'justice,' but where's the justice for victims of crime and their families? This legislation is another slap in the face to law enforcement and those who have already lost their loved ones and childhoods at the hands of criminal offenders. This comes on the heels of a state budget that was basically a criminals' bill of rights. I urge those opposed to this legislation to visit my website at helming.nysenate.gov and join the fight. We need to make our voices heard and send a loud and clear message to Albany that we stand with law enforcement and victims of crime," Helming said.
Dale Driscoll, whose daughter Helen and granddaughter Brittany were brutally murdered in Geneva by an individual with a history of domestic violence said, "It is the state's duty and those in service to do their best to protect the citizens. This will only endanger the lives of many innocent people."
Lora Bennett, whose mother was murdered last year in Waterloo, said, "Last year, we lost my mother, Lori McConnell. Her murder forever changed my family and our community. Since that time, I have dedicated myself to fighting for the rights of crime victims and their families so that others do not have to go through what my family has. Throughout this process, we have worked with Helming. New York needs to put the needs of families like mine above those of killers. We lost a mother, a friend, and a wonderful person. People who take the lives of others should not be put back on our streets simply because they are older now. There must be a consequence for their actions."
Elaine Hartnagel, grandmother of Curtis Rizzo, a toddler who was murdered in Wayne County along with his teenage babysitter, said, "Just because the criminal has reached 55 years of age should not be a reason to release them from prison. Our loved ones will never have the chance to reach the age of 55 thanks to the person who took their lives. There is no guarantee that they have been rehabilitated and will not kill again. In my opinion, anyone who takes someone else's life should never be free."
Helming said, "Those who have stood trial and been convicted and sentenced for committing horrific acts of violence and abuse should serve their full sentence. Violent crime has touched every community in one way or another, and I commend the bravery of those victims of crime who are speaking out against this misguided proposal. We as a state need to be sending the message that crime does not pay and violence and abuse will not be tolerated."