BUFFALO, N.Y. - Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard issued a directive on Friday afternoon telling law enforcement personnel to continue asking people about their immigration status during traffic stops, arrests and domestic incidents.
The directive came just a few hours after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order that bans state agencies and police from asking about immigration status in most cases.
"Our officers have sworn a solemn oath to uphold the law," said Sheriff Howard in a statement released to the media on Friday. "Today, I have instructed my Deputies to continue enforcing the law, irrespective of Governor Cuomo's executive order.”
The directive by Sheriff Howard orders law enforcement to inquire about the immigration status of people under investigation. Howard says the directive falls in line with the policy set by the federal government.
"There is no duty more important than protecting our citizens and upholding the rule of law," said Howard. "As Sheriff, part of my job is enforcing our constitution and the law, regardless of what cheap political points Albany politicians are looking to score."
Howard is seeking another term as sheriff and will face Democrat Bernie Tolbert in the November Election.
Cuomo will seek a third term as governor in 2018 and is considered a potential presidential candidate in 2020.
Howard spoke to 2 On Your Side about his decision on Saturday. Watch a portion of the interivew below.