The New York Police Department rejected all 1,526 requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2017 to detain illegal immigrants, according to New York Daily News. NYPD legislative affairs director Oleg Chernyavsky made the announcement at a City Council meeting.
“That speaks volumes to our intent as a city,” Chernyavsky said. “It’s important for victims of crimes, irrespective of their immigration status, to trust their police and to come forward and inform their police.”
“If an individual currently committed a crime, that individual would be arrested, prosecuted and so on by New York authorities for the violation of law,” he said. “Where the detainer law comes into play is how we’re approaching cooperation beyond the crime at hand.”
The ICE requests pertain to undocumented immigrants who have been convicted of one of 170 crimes. According to New York City policy, police can hand over prisoners only when federal officials present a warrant.
In response, ICE tweeted statements Thomas Decker, field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations New York, made in December, following the arrest of four illegal immigrants that had been released from NYPD custody.
“The release of criminal aliens back on New York City streets continues to pose an dangerous risk to our communities,” Decker wrote. “ICE remains committed to arresting and removing criminal aliens in the interest of public safety and national security, despite the city’s decision to not honor detainers and jeopardize the safety of its citizens.”
In 2017, the number of ICE requests was 20 times higher than in 2016, when NYPD rejected all but two of ICE’s 80 requests to detain illegal immigrants who had been arrested.
Bitta Mostofi, acting commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, said there has been “a tremendous spike in overbroad enforcement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.” She also claimed that there has also been a 40 percent jump in arrests of immigrants with no criminal history.
“The people they’re seeking are essentially anybody, regardless of the nature of the crime,” she said.
The announcement comes amid debates regarding so-called “sanctuary cities” that refuse to cooperate with ICE.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been outspoken about the effect of sanctuary cities.
“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” Sessions said in a statement Wednesday. “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement — enough is enough.”
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson also warned lawmakers on Capital Hill that federal prosecutors would soon be prosecuting sanctuary cities.
In January, the Department of Justice threatened to subpoena 23 jurisdictions that act as sanctuary cities, including America’s three largest cities and three states.
“If these jurisdictions fail to respond to our request, fail to respond completely or fail to respond in a timely manner, we will exercise our lawful authorities and issue subpoenas for the information,” the DOJ said.