US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is about to be told that it is not wanted in New York City ‒ provided that new legislation introduced to the city council on Tuesday goes through. The legislation would basically force the ICE office on Rikers Island to close down and see New York join 200 other jurisdictions across the United States, including Chicago, LA, Newark and San Diego, in refusing to work with federal officials to imprison suspected illegal immigrants.
Camille Mackler, the New York Immigrant Coalition’s director of legal initiatives, says that the city’s actions could help to compensate for Congress utterly abandoning the issue, particularly during a midterm election year during which anti-immigration Republicans are being tipped to make gains.
“Using the criminal system to funnel individuals into removal proceedings often leads to deportation and permanent exile from one’s friends, family and life in the United States regardless of the nature – or indeed the guilt – of the underlying offense,” Mackler says. “In other words, the punishment does not fit the crime.” The funneling commenced in 2008 via the Secure Communities initiative, which allowed authorities to access fingerprint databases and move in on anyone believed to be an undocumented immigrant.
New York already has almost 40 counties that refuse to routinely jail those who are believed to be undocumented immigrants. New York Civil Liberties Union lawyer Jordan Wells says that the policy has always been a blatant infringement on rights guaranteed by the fourth amendment.