New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) says he’s “troubled” that a local sheriff is working with federal immigration authorities.
"State police agencies do not and will not engage in such activity, and we are troubled that one local sheriff in the state has decided to participate," said Cuomo in a statement.
Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo is the first and only in his state to sign up for an ICE program called 287(g) that trains state and local law enforcement agencies in immigration vetting procedures and designates certain officers as having the authority to process criminal aliens at the federal level -- including arresting and detaining them if they're wanted by ICE for a previous crime.
Russo in an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday defended his decision to partner with ICE, saying that "cooperation amongst police agencies is paramount in providing good public safety."
“I would cooperate with ICE the same way I do with the DEA, with the FBI, Secret Service. I mean, cooperation amongst police agencies is paramount in providing good public safety,” he said.
"We want someone to prevent [an illegal immigrant] from getting out before they're recognized as being wanted," said Russo.
The New York sheriff pushed back on Gov. Cuomo's criticism, saying that “it’s a shame” Cuomo is making it about politics.
“The governor has his job to do and I have my job to do. It’s a shame this came down to being political because to me it’s more public safety than politics,” he said.
"It's a sensible thing to do, not to turn a criminal back out into the community," Russo continued. "You're doing a disservice to the community. You're doing a disservice to the law enforcement officers that have to go back out and interact with that person."
“You have to remember, the governor, no matter where he goes, he’s protected by a contingent of armed state police … The citizens don’t have that protection. They depend on me,” he said.
The screening taught through the 287(g) program takes place only for illegal immigrants arrested on criminal charges – not just for anyone in the country without legal status.
Check out Sheriff Russo’s full remarks below.