City Council Member Liz Crowley (D-Middle Village) has come under fire for co-sponsoring a bill that will cut funding for a program that turns the NYC DOC into a flock of stool pigeons for the Federal Government.
City Councilwoman Liz Crowley (D-Middle Village) has co-sponsored legislation to stop the Department of Corrections from snitching on immigrant detainees to the Feds.
Old enemies are up in arms.
The bill, Intro 656 will stop funding from the City that supports Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts to detain immigrants who have been cleared of their crimes and have no previous criminal background, according to a report in the Times Ledger.
If a person sent to Rikers is found to be an illegal immigrant, the city squeals to ICE under an agreement called the Criminal Alien Program. If you are not a criminal, they still squeal, and you will sit in a jail cell awaiting deportation. Intro 656 will cut the city’s funding for the program that has turned Rikers Island into an unorthodox Customs detention center.
These people are not a national security threat.
In a City long known to protect the immigrant community and in a heavily Democratic City Council, I doubt the theatrics of a jingoist civic prez who takes on the air of a klansperson and a few Council Members, one known to support Liz Crowley’s formal rival, Tom Ognibene will have any effect, if at all on the outcome.
As of Wednesday, Nov. 3rd, it didn’t. The Bill was approved by the Council 43:5 and now sits on the Mayors desk awaiting his signature.
“What they are doing at Rikers is running an alien program rather than a criminal alien program,” said Daniel Dromm, Chair of the NYC Council’s Committee on Immigrant Affairs. “Many innocent immigrants are unfairly being detained and deported because of this broken immigration system. We cannot allow the cooperation between ICE and the DOC to continue tearing families apart and destabilizing immigrant communities that pose no threat to public safety.”
Chairman of Public Safety, Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria) raised an interesting point in opposition to Intro 656. He is the only opponent to use legal reasoning rather than an appeal to notions of xenophobia.
“The City Council is ignoring federal law and claiming that people illegally in this country who are arrested for a crime are somehow required to already have been convicted of yet another crime before we even cooperate with federal authorities. As a former prosecutor, I can tell you that many dangerous criminals who have recently snuck into our country have no criminal record. This policy will only succeed in making our streets more dangerous,” said Vallone in a report appearing in the Forum.
On the national level the proposed legislation appears to be in sync with White House policy and with immigration officials who said they will exercise “prosecutorial discretion.” This means authorities will evaluate charges on a case-by-case basis to concentrate enforcement efforts on criminal cases and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws, according to a report in the New York Times.
Despite a sprinkle of opposition, Intro 656, was supported by a majority of Council Members including Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), Ruben Wills (D-Richmond Hills), Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Chelsea), and 36 other Council Members. Even Peter Koo (R-Flushing) and Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) voted in the affirmative.
Vincent Ignizio, Vincent Gentile, James Oddo, Peter Vallone, and Eric Ulrich voted NO.
“We need to stop needlessly and excessively deporting people who have had no prior criminal records, said Speaker Quinn. “Since our bill was introduced we’ve had productive discussions with the Bloomberg administration. We are pleased that they’ve agreed to support our legislation that will reduce unjust deportations. This is an important victory for all New Yorkers particularly our City’s immigrant community,” said Quinn.
Write to the Mayor. Tell him you support this bill.