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New York State Immigration Laws

Going through an immigration journey can feel overwhelming. This is particularly true for immigrants within the U.S. who are going through an immigration process. It's essential to stay informed. This article highlights fundamental immigrant rights and responsibilities under New York state laws. It aims to give an overview, helping individuals understand their rights.

This article will delve into the following topics:

Can New York Pass Its Own Immigration Laws?

Traditionally, the federal government system has regulated immigration. To prevent inconsistent laws, it barred states from passing their own immigration laws. This rule complies with the legislative principle of preemption.

Although states can't create or change immigration laws, they can pass laws that affect the services and benefits available within the state.

Some states and cities have attempted to protect immigrants without proper documentation. "Sanctuary Cities" promise not to ask about residents' immigration status. They will refuse to hold or transfer prisoners into federal immigration custody under certain circumstances. Others have set requirements for law enforcement officials to do precisely these things.

Law Enforcement and Immigration in New York

Federal government agencies and local authorities in New York work together to implement immigration laws. The following are the federal agencies that administer immigration laws:

ICE also incorporated Section 287(g) into the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This section aims to improve the cooperative efforts between the federal and local governments. It's specifically for tracing immigrants living here illegally and arrested on criminal charges.

The Illegal Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act created 287(g) in 1996. But enforcement of the law became more robust after 9/11.

The Rensselaer County Sheriff's Office participates in this program in New York.

Back in 2017, "Secure Communities" was in effect. This initiative shares the same goal with Section 287(g). "Secure Communities" assisted in the execution of immigration laws in the country. The DHS and the Attorney General gather and share data about imprisoned immigrants nationwide. They assess their immigration status and their criminal charges. Then, immigration authorities will determine whether to deport or remove the person from the U.S. "Secure Communities" is no longer in use, as President Joe Biden revoked the executive order in 2021.

Employment and Immigration

Federal law requires U.S. employers to complete Form I-9. This form verifies the employment authorization and the identity of the person hired. The rule applies to each employee, whether U.S. citizen or noncitizen.

New York E-Verify Requirements

New York does not have any E-Verify laws. Employers may still opt to use the E-Verify system.

Driver's Licenses/IDs

New York's Green Light Law allows immigrants without documentation to apply for a driver's license. The broader list of acceptable identification made it possible for immigrants without the usual documentation to get a driver's license. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has a detailed list of acceptable documents.

Public Benefits Restrictions

Under federal law, immigrants without documentation can't get most public benefits. But they can use emergency services, health care, and other programs "necessary to protect life and safety."

Education Restrictions

New York Assembly Bill 9612 granted students without proper documentation access to in-state tuition. The benefit is also available to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. But, students still need to meet the guidelines to be eligible. These rules include:

  1. Attended high school in New York for at least two years
  2. Graduated from a high school in New York or received a GED
  3. Applied to attend a school in New York within five years of getting a high school diploma
  4. Showed proof of residency in New York
  5. Filed an affidavit stating that the student will apply for a legal immigrant visa when able

Voting ID Rules

New Yorkers do not have to show identification to vote. But they do to register as a voter. People who fail to show identification during registration should show their ID at the polling place when they vote for the first time.

Housing Ordinances and Immigration

The United States Fair Housing Act protects the rights of people to get equal access to housing regardless of their immigration status. The act protects people from discrimination based on the following:

  • Race
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Familial status
  • Disability

Related Resources

Various resources and legal service providers are available for immigrant communities in New York. These organizations offer referrals to legal services and legal assistance for immigrants. The following are some of these organizations:

  • NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs — This office supports a wide range of immigrant programs. These programs aim to enhance immigrant New Yorkers' civic, economic, and social integration.
  • ActionNYC — The program is accessible to every immigrant New Yorker. It offers free legal help from a network of organizations in New York.
  • Know Your Rights — A guide to protecting yourself and your family during immigration raids (PDF, CASA of Maryland, and other organizations).
  • New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) — NYIC is an advocacy organization that promotes policies protecting immigrants. They advocate laws that improve New Yorkers' and immigrants' lives, particularly those in low-income households.

Learn More About New York Immigration Law: Contact an Immigration Lawyer

Learning about the intricacies of the immigration system is challenging and overwhelming. This is particularly true for those who are going through an immigration process or for immigrants facing potential deportation or removal. When facing these challenges, it's essential to remember that you are not alone. There are New York immigration lawyers who can help you get a better understanding of your rights and responsibilities.

Immigration attorneys can also offer legal advice tailored to your case. Whether you are a permanent resident looking to apply for naturalization or an immigrant wanting a green card, it is best to seek legal help.

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