Under New Mark-Viverito Legislation: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) May No Longer Maintain Offices on Rikers Island and the Department of Correction May No Longer Assist Federal Officials in Dragnet Immigration Enforcement Efforts.

CITY HALL- City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, along with Council Members Daniel Dromm, Rafael Espinal and Immigration Committee Chair Carlos Menchaca today announced groundbreaking legislation to protect New Yorkers and greatly reduce the City’s involvement in the enforcement of civil immigration laws by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in New York City. Under the landmark legislation to be introduced by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at the October 7th Stated meeting, New York City will no longer honor any immigration detainer issued by ICE unless a federal judge issues a warrant. Federal Judges have recently stated that since detainer requests from the federal government are voluntary, municipalities that honor them may be violating the U.S. Constitution by honoring them and holding someone based on a detainer without sufficient cause.

Pursuant to the bill, the NYPD and the Department of Correction (DOC) may no longer honor detainer requests issued by ICE unless they are backed up by a warrant issued by a federal judge. If ICE provides a judicial warrant then the NYPD and DOC may only honor a detainer request if the subject was convicted of a violent or serious crime as defined in the bill, within the last five years or is found to be a possible match on the terrorist watch list.

Speaker Mark-Viverito first addressed this problem in 2011 and again in 2013 by passing legislation to limit the City’s cooperation with ICE. Local Law 62 of 2011, Local Law 21 and Local Law 22 of 2013 established guidelines for DOC and NYPD to determine whether to honor immigration detainers. Under current law, the City honors detainer requests without a judicial warrant and if one is merely accused of a felony or certain misdemeanors.

“By further limiting ICE’s role in the detention and deportation of immigrant New Yorkers, we set the national standard for the treatment of our immigrant population. Families will no longer be needlessly torn apart by ICE’s dragnet enforcement efforts,” said Speaker Mark-Viverito. “We cannot allow for immigrant families looking for a better life for themselves and their children to be needlessly torn apart because of gaps in our laws. As I’ve said before—if congress won’t act, then we must. I would like to thank the co-sponsors of this legislation; Council Members Dromm, Menchaca and Espinal as well as my Council colleagues and advocates for their unwavering support for this bill and for their unwavering commitment to our immigrant community.”

“So many our city’s immigrants are facing needless and unnecessary deportation because of loopholes in our laws, said Carlos Menchaca, Chair of the Committee on Immigration. “Under the leadership of our Speaker this bill will close that loophole so that immigrants and their families are not torn apart by a flawed system. This legislation will help end the separation of all families.”

“Disentangling civil immigration enforcement from our local criminal justice system will make all of us safer by encouraging immigrant communities to report crimes and cooperate with investigations,” said NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm. “This legislation will protect our immigrant communities by further defining our city’s relationship with ICE. I commend Speaker Mark-Viverito, Immigration Committee Chairperson Menchaca and my fellow colleagues for their work on this issue.”

“For years I have witnessed ICE set up shop in our city’s jails to prey on vulnerable immigrant inmates, who have served their time, and expedite them into federal detention centers. The victims are separated from their families and often times transported to states like Texas, and Louisiana, without due process of the law,” stated Council Member Espinal. “I commend Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for pushing this bold and groundbreaking legislation and giving a voice to those that need it most. It is my hope that this will serve as a model for other municipalities throughout the country that are also struggling to keep ICE from targeting its most vulnerable residents.”

New York City’s immigrant population is made up of New Yorkers who have been here for years, set down roots, started families, work and pay taxes. The upheaval and disruption for families and communities caused by the detention and deportation of immigrant New Yorkers is heartbreaking, unnecessary and fundamentally unfair. Detention facilities are well known for their deplorable conditions and immigrants are often placed in facilities far from their communities which makes it very difficult to communicate with family or even obtain the documents they need to defend themselves. Detained immigrants cannot provide for their families. Since 2011 the Speaker and Council have worked to reduce the City’s unnecessary involvement with federal immigration enforcement. The Council has passed laws that enhance the City’s ability to be more discerning when deciding when there is a need to assist federal immigration authorities in dragnet like enforcement actions. Given recent federal court decisions as well congressional inaction on immigration reform these laws need to be expanded.

Members of Congress praised the Council’s legislation.

“Deportations tear families apart and destabilize our immigrant communities, and only further underscore the need for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. New York City has always been a leader in welcoming immigrants and I am glad to see greater strides being taken to make immigrant families feel valued and to build greater trust between our immigrant communities and law enforcement officials,” said Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx).

“ICE detainers have had a terrible impact on our immigrant families and we need to greatly limit their use and enforcement here in New York City. It’s simply unacceptable that someone can end up facing deportation after being arrested for minor crimes they may not even be guilty of committing. Numerous court cases have demonstrated that ICE detainer requests are voluntary for states, and this bill will limit the role they play in the City by allowing them only when the subject has been convicted of a serious crime in the past five years. I applaud the efforts of Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito to protect NYC’s immigrants and help promote an environment where they can live without constant fear of deportation,” said Congressman Jose E. Serrano.

“Too often, ICE’s practices tear families apart and target for deportation immigrants who present no threat to the community,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez (D-NY). “We must work for immigration policies that respect the sanctity of families and protect the rights of detained immigrants.”

“With these legislative proposals, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Member Carlos Menchaca and their colleagues in the New York City Council have demonstrated their commitment to protecting the families of New York City from the threat of deportation, which often forcibly separates parents from their children,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke (D-NY). “Even as Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have refused to bring immigration reform to the floor for a vote, the City Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio have collaborated to assist the half a million New York City residents who currently lack legal status. All New York City residents are active and full members of our communities. New York City has always been a gateway for immigrants in their quest to attain the American Dream and a safe haven for families yearning to be free. I commend Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Menchaca and their colleagues for having the courage to advance this very important course of legislative action. We have a responsibility and an obligation to support each other.”

Immigration advocates also praised the legislation.
“Today is a historic day. After five years of work, New York City will put an end to the collaboration with ICE that damages immigrant families and hurts our communities. The Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s commitment to this issue has not waivered from the day we first briefed her on ICE’s presence in Riker’s Island in 2009, and we would not be here had it not been for her leadership and perseverance. Today we can say that NYC will get ICE out of Rikers. I also want to thank Mayor de Blasio and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca for their critical leadership for immigrant families and communities, and for helping to make this possible,” said Javier H. Valdes, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York
“This important legislation will keep thousands of New York City families together every year, protecting our communities from the harsh enforcement mechanisms of an immigration system that everyone agrees is fatally flawed,” said Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director at the Center for Popular Democracy.
“Speaker Mark-Viverito has long been a leader on this issue and, with the introduction of this bill, she puts New York City at the vanguard of a national movement to use municipal power to promote immigrant rights and racial justice. We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito and Mayor de Blasiofor supporting this groundbreaking piece of legislation. This is a great step forward and we are proud to say that New York City is once again leading the way towards protecting the constitutional rights of its residents, building trust with immigrant communities and, ultimately, making us all safer,” said Jenny Alcaide, from Cardozo School of Law’s Immigration Justice Clinic.

According to DOC, under the current law, between October 2012 and September 2013, DOC honored 3,047 detainer requests and all those individuals were handed over to ICE agents for deportation. DOC did not honor 1,163 ICE detainer requests during that time period. Under the new law, DOC will honor far fewer detainer requests.