On Sunday, November 20th, 2016, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to create a new hate-crimes unit in the state police and legal assistance for immigrants targeted for deportation or discrimination.
Standing in front of scores of parishioners at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s stance against illegal immigration, though he didn’t mention him by name.
“If there is a move to deport immigrants, then I say start with me. I am a son of immigrants,” said Mr. Cuomo, whose family is Italian. “If we deport immigrants then I ask, ‘Who is safe and who will be left?’ Because we are all immigrants. If we deport immigrants then the only ones left will be the Iroquois, the Sioux and the Cherokee and the Apache.”
The legal assistance will take the form of a public-private legal defense fund run by the New York State Office for New Americans, according to a Cuomo spokeswoman.
The state police’s new hate-crimes unit is in response to reported racial incidents since the election, including several in New York. In Patchogue, Long Island, Ku Klux Klan fliers were found on parked cars, Mr. Cuomo said, while a painted swastika and the words “Make America White Again” were found in upstate Wellsville. Swastika graffiti has also appeared in New York City.
Mr. Cuomo also said he hopes to expand the state’s human-rights law, which bars discrimination based on age, race, sexual orientation and other categories, to all students in New York. It currently only grants such protections to private-school students.
“The divisiveness must stop and New Yorkers will not be bystanders to injustice,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That is not the New York way. We will fight sexism and racism and bigotry wherever we see it.”
Most of the parishioners stood and applauded the governor at the end of his speech. Marian C. Reddick, a Manhattan resident, remained seated.
“Words are cheap,” Ms. Reddick said. “We need action.”