Published Feb. 28, 2024, 5:37 p.m. ET

By Aneeta Bhole

The Democrat-controlled New York City Council has been blasted as “out of touch” by local Republicans for swatting down Mayor Eric Adams’ call to change the Big Apple’s sanctuary policy in order to more easily deport migrants accused of crimes.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams on Wednesday called Hizzoner’s suggestion “harmful” and said lawmakers were not planning on making any modifications to the law.

“We are not considering changes to laws. These laws have been in effect for decades,” she said during an unrelated press conference at City Hall.

City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (pictured) dismissed Mayor Eric Adams’ suggestion to change sanctuary policy in the Big Apple calling it “harmful.” Gabriella Bass

“I think that it would be harmful to retract and go backwards instead of going forward as far as the law is concerned.”

Mayor Adams on Tuesday called for a change in the current policy — which severely limits communication between local and federal authorities — saying he believes the city should better cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to potentially deport migrants “suspected” of carrying out “serious” crimes.

“I want to go back to the standards of the previous mayors who I believe subscribe to my belief that people who are suspected of committing serious crimes in the city should be held accountable,” the moderate Democrat told reporters.

The move was welcomed by stunned Republican lawmakers, who earlier this month partly blamed left-leaning New York laws for leaving ICE powerless to stop migrants accused of jumping two NYPD cops from skipping town.

Officials including Eric Adams prepare for winter storm at salt and sand depot. Mayor Adams in blue coat and hat. Photo by Matthew McDermott.
Adams proposed making it easier to deport migrants who are accused of “serious” crimes. Matthew McDermott

“Even those New Yorkers who prefer we be a welcoming sanctuary city, are willing to say enough is enough when people are here committing repeated and violent crimes,” said Council Minority Leader Joseph Borelli.

“It is a privilege to go through our justice system, even in this country. And if you don’t have a right to be here, and you’re not following our laws, we don’t have to avail you of those privileges,” he told The Post on Wednesday.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, also a Staten Island Republican, agreed: “If the City Council won’t repeal, it just reaffirms how radical and out of touch they are.”

But she also challenged how serious the mayor was about making his U-turn a reality.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (center) and Joseph Borelli (left), both of Staten Island, said Speaker Adams is out of touch with the majority of New Yorkers G.N.Miller/NYPost

“I appreciate [the] NYC Mayor agreeing with commonsense New Yorkers that illegal immigrants who commit crimes in our city should be deported,” the congresswoman said in a statement.

“If he’s serious about changing the city’s sanctuary laws, he should take executive action or give the City Council legislation to repeal the disastrous 2014 sanctuary law to untie the hands of our NYPD and allow them to cooperate with federal immigration officials who can deport these dangerous individuals from our city,” she added.

“Until then, he’s only encouraging more criminals to come to New York & prey on our citizens while living free in luxury hotel rooms on the taxpayers’ dime.”

Malliotakis questioned how serious Adams is about changing the sanctuary laws.
Malliotakis questioned how serious Adams is about changing the sanctuary laws. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Speaker Adams rebuffed the criticism, and called for laws to instead give more migrants the ability to work legally.

“I firmly believe that if we were to have the provision of work, that’s going to take a lot of the idle time away from folks that might frankly have nothing else to do,” she said.

Existing law prohibits the city from cooperating with federal immigration authorities if a foreign national has been charged with a crime but not convicted — laws strengthened under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

Asked about the mayor’s comments on Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul said Adams doesn’t need the approval of Albany.

“The Mayor has his approach, that’s fine. I’m talking about what is allowed under the law that I have control over and that’s what we’re looking at and we do cooperate with federal authorities under our policy,” she said at an unrelated press conference.

“This is a city rule, City Council are the ones that he has to work with,” Hochul added.

“There have to be consequences. If you commit a crime in the state of New York, justice demands that you be tried and if convicted, incarcerated here,” she said.

“You’re arrested, prosecuted, convicted and if you have to do jail time, at the conclusion of that, you need to be deported.”