NYC Legislation Would Impede Immigration Detainers
New York City would stop honoring detainment orders from U.S. immigration officials without a warrant from a federal judge, according to legislation that will be proposed before the City Council next week.
The bill also stipulates that even with a judge's warrant, the New York Police Department is permitted to detain the subject only if the suspect is convicted of a "violent or serious crime." Moreover, the city's Department of Corrections would be forced to curb its enforcement of civil immigration laws, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would be made to close its facility on Riker's Island, the city's largest jail.
The measure, if enacted, will be the latest attempt by the City Council to ease the obstacles faced by immigrants who live in New York without legal documentation.
"By further limiting I.C.E.'s role in the detention and deportation of immigrant New Yorkers, we set the national standard for the treatment of our immigrant population," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, in a statement Thursday. "Families will no longer be needlessly torn apart by I.C.E.'s dragnet enforcement efforts."
The legislation could reduce the large scale of arrests of illegal immigrants in the nation's largest city. Officials have estimated that 500,000 people are in New York without the proper documentation.
An immigration detainer informs local law enforcement agencies that the Department of Homeland Security intends to assume custody of a person and requests information to help make that possible.
A spokesman for ICE said the detainers help identity and remove criminals from the U.S. The spokesman didn't comment further on the proposed legislation.
The bill received support from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is a close ally of Mark-Viverito.
In recent weeks, the speaker has announced several steps meant to help immigrants, particularly the flood of unaccompanied kids who have swamped the U.S.-Mexico border. The Council set aside $1 million to help pay the legal bills of those kids in immigration court and authorized the creation of a municipal identification card that will give immigrants more access to government services.