New York City Proposal Would Limit Detention of Migrants / The New York Times

The bill also stipulates that even with a judge’s warrant, the Police and Correction Departments may honor a request for a hold, known as a detainer, only if the subject has been convicted of a “violent or serious crime.”

Under the legislation, to be introduced next week by the City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Correction Department would be prohibited from using resources to help enforce civil immigration laws “unless it is in furtherance of honoring a valid detainer request,” according to Ms. Mark-Viverito’s office.

In another proposed shift, a companion bill would end the presence of immigration officials at Rikers Island. For years, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, has maintained offices at the jail complex.

“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,” Ms. Mark-Viverito said in a statement. “Families will no longer be needlessly torn apart by ICE’s dragnet enforcement efforts.”

The Council’s move would align New York with many other cities and counties around the country that have said they will limit their cooperation with detention requests from immigration authorities.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Thursday that he supported the legislation, which he called “thoughtful and progressive,” adding that it affirmed New York’s status as “a city of immigrants, where dignity and an individual’s right to due process will be protected.”

But federal officials defended their practices, asserting that Immigration and Customs Enforcement “requests detainers on individuals arrested on criminal charges to ensure that dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails and into our communities.”

The agency added that the federal authorities would “continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement partners throughout New York as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities through the identification and removal of convicted criminals and other public safety threats.”

In some cases, the agency said, the subjects of detainer requests who have been released by the local authorities have gone on to commit serious crimes. Asked to provide statistics or examples of this, an agency spokesman said he did not have statistics but cited two episodes in Illinois: one involving a 23-year-old man who shot and killed his girlfriend this year after being released in 2011 and another involving a 30-year-old man who fatally struck a skateboarder with his car while drunk in 2012.

New York City’s role in the enforcement of federal immigration laws has been of particular interest to the City Council in recent years. The body has already passed legislation to curb the city’s cooperation with federal authorities. Currently the city honors detention requests without a judge’s warrant if a subject is accused of a felony or certain misdemeanors.

Federal officials have long issued detainers asking local and state law enforcement agencies to hold immigrant detainees for up to 48 hours after they are scheduled for release from jail. Many of those detainees are transferred into federal custody and end up in deportation proceedings.

Federal judges, as Ms. Mark-Viverito’s office noted, have said that because federal detainer requests are voluntary, municipalities that honor them may be violating the Constitution. Courts in states including Pennsylvania and Rhode Island ruled this year that detainers did not amount to the probable cause required for people to be kept in jail.

Ms. Mark-Viverito’s office, citing statistics from the Correction Department, said more than 3,000 people were transferred to federal immigration authorities for deportation “pursuant to a detainer” from October 2012 to September 2013.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the measures would send a clear message that Rikers Island was not to function as an “interrogation pen” for immigration officials.”



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