ALBANY, N.Y. -- In a rare moment of agreement, Albany's three Democrat candidates for mayor each signaled a willingness to defy President Donald Trump and refuse to round up the children of undocumented immigrants, currently protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.
Incumbent mayor Kathy Sheehan, and challengers Carolyn McLaughlin and Frank Commisso, Jr., discussed the measure during a Wednesday debate hosted by the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy. The debate was moderated by Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin and Spectrum News reporter Geoff Redick.
An Obama-era federal statute, DACA has re-emerged in headlines this week after President Trump signaled that he would let DACA expire next year if Congress cannot come up with a replacement plan. Secretary of State Jeff Sessions has since announced the program will be phased out more immediately. If the measure expires, hundreds of thousands of people living in the United States could be deported to their parents' home nations if the parents entered the United States illegally.
Each of Albany's mayoral candidates said non-criminal immigrants and their chidren would not be rounded up under a Democrat administration in City Hall. Mayor Sheehan went a step further and said her particular brand of sanctuary city would not ask city residents about their legal status, even if they were pulled over for traffic violations.
The candidates were also asked about storm preparedness, in light of hurricanes Harvey and Irma affecting Florida and the United States' gulf coast. McLaughlin insisted that the city needs quarterly storm evacuation drills to remind residents of the city's public safety plan. Commisso criticized the city's approved practice of dumping overflow storm sewage into the Hudson River.
Sheehan noted that the sewage overflows have decreased based on a federal consent order. The mayor claims her administration has made the city "absolutely" safe, in the face of increasing threats for severe weather.
Aside from current national issues, the candidates also debated over crime, vacant property and city finances, as well as a light-hearted "lightning round."
The Democractic primary for mayor will be held on Tuesday, September 12.