Elections have consequences.
New York’s new status as a “sanctuary” city means few illegal immigrants who break the law are being handed over to federal authorities for deportation, according to the New York Post.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials asked the city Correction Department to detain 944 inmates in city jails between October 2014 and September 2015. But the department transferred only 219 to federal custody — about 23 percent. In the 12 months before that, ICE made 3,204 requests. City jails transferred 2,016 inmates to ICE custody — or 63 percent, records show.
A new sanctuary law passed by the City Council and Mayor de Blasio in October 2014 is largely responsible for the massive decline in federal requests and the number of detainees handed over.
The law prevents the city from transferring an immigrant prisoner to ICE custody unless the feds have a warrant, or the suspect is on a terrorism watch list or has committed a violent crime, such as rape or murder. “We’re acting within guidelines and the scope of the law,” said NYPD Lt. Chris Czark. Before the sanctuary law, “you could be detained for any felony,” he said. “Now it’s certain felonies.”
ICE says it now focuses only on aliens who are gangsters, drug dealers, child predators or violent felons. Critics say the city law shields undocumented aliens who commit serious offenses, including sexual abuse, prescription drug sales, bribery, money laundering, harassment, grand larceny and drunk driving, from federal detention and deportation.
“These are crimes that can injure others and make our communities less safe,” said Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who has joined several Republican legislators in pushing a bill in Albany to compel the city to comply with federal detention requests. “It’s almost as if the City Council is more interested in protecting illegal immigrants than the safety of the very citizens they represent,” she told The Post.
The city law is making the public less safe, a former senior Homeland Security source said. “Even though these individuals are in the country illegally, you’re waiting for them to commit a violent crime before putting them into removal proceedings and getting them out of the community,” the source said. “It tells foreign-born criminals we’re not going to enforce the law until you rape or murder someone.”
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has not been moved by such arguments. “Any suggestion that our common-sense law does otherwise is nothing more than cheap political posturing,” said her spokeswoman Amy Varghese.
Communication between ICE and the city Correction Department has been hampered under the new system. Correction administrators used to alert ICE agents when an undocumented immigrant had arrived at a city jail. An ICE agent on site would interview the defendant in a trailer shortly after intake to determine his immigration status. Now ICE must discover an undocumented alien by combing through computer records of newly arrested defendants.