Montgomery a ‘non-sanctuary’ municipality

By Jared Castañeda
Posted 3/13/24

The Village of Montgomery board, as proposed by Trustee Mike Hembury, passed a resolution during its March 5 meeting that declared the village a non-sanctuary municipality. This decision sparked …

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Montgomery a ‘non-sanctuary’ municipality


The Village of Montgomery board, as proposed by Trustee Mike Hembury, passed a resolution during its March 5 meeting that declared the village a non-sanctuary municipality. This decision sparked mixed reception from residents during public comment due to the timeliness of the resolution without a prior advancement.

Halfway through the meeting, Hembury raised concerns regarding undocumented immigrants entering and residing in the village, emphasizing the dangers for residents. He spoke about the death of Laken Riley, 22, a nursing student who was killed in Athens, Georgia on February 22 by an undocumented Venezuelan migrant.

“This is in reference to Athens, Georgia, a sanctuary city. A girl was murdered down there, jogging and minding her own business,” Hembury said. “He was wanted by New York City, but they didn’t know about him. Now everyone’s finger-pointing at each other.”

“We all know what’s going on with New York City too. We’re here to look out for the residents,” he continued. “I want our police department to be in full cooperation with our federal authorities. I want to find out if the senior center, the teen center, or the elementary school center are housing migrants overnight.”

Hembury, who prefaced that his proposal was last-minute, requested that the board pass a resolution declaring the village a non-sanctuary, stressing that the trustees need to ensure residents’ safety.

“This is what Will (Village Attorney Will Frank) said we can do: ‘The village board is in its rights to pass a resolution expressing support for the relevant Orange County executive order relating to and preventing New York City or other states from sending undocumented persons to Orange County,” Hembury read. “The board can also pass a resolution stating that this village is a non-sanctuary municipality and that this village’s law enforcement personnel will comply with reasonable requests from ICE.”

Trustee Randi Picarello asked if the board could table the resolution for another meeting rather than pass it immediately, giving the trustees and residents more time to discuss the matter.

“I would like to table that for the next meeting, that needs more discussion. I’m not doing anything out of order without a full discussion from the board,” Picarello said. “It’s not even on the agenda, it hasn’t been discussed before right this minute, and I think it should be discussed more than that.”

The board ended up passing the resolution; Trustees Hembury, Darlene Andolsek, and Kevin Conero voted in favor of the motion, while Picarello voted to table it. She affirmed that she was not voting against the resolution.

“I’m voting to table it. I’m not opposing, I’m not abstaining. I’m voting to table it for more discussion,” she said.

During public comment, Resident Anne McDermott questioned how a resolution that was not scheduled on the agenda could be passed without trustees or residents knowing about it ahead of time.

“Where are the village board bylaws or the protocol, are they listed on the website or something? How does something get on the agenda?” she asked. “Why was something new brought up that wasn’t on the agenda and then voted on and then passed? How do I know, as a village resident, how all of this works?”

Resident Mark Palczweski thanked Hembury for bringing up the proposal and agreed that addressing undocumented immigrants was an urgent issue.

“I support what Mike did, one hundred percent. I have a daughter the same age as the one who was killed, so it’s personal,” he said. “When I hear stuff like that, it boils my blood that someone came over here illegally and killed somebody. I don’t care if it’s out of order or not protocol: Mike brought it up and it should be discussed immediately.”

Resident James Kiernan felt that the resolution diverted attention away from issues that the village currently faces, such as traffic and water.

“I don’t see this as a major issue. If it was, I understand; I don’t want people killed by anyone. None of us do. But that’s not the major issue in the village right now,” he said. “Let’s focus on what we need to focus on. This community is too important, all you people are too important to me to make this a whole game. We don’t need that kind of discussion here.”