New York City Might Cut Funding to Federal Immigration Agency

The New York City Council recently introduced a bill to eliminate city funding for an Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that deports illegal immigrants jailed for petty crimes.

Under ICE’s Criminal Alien Program, the city reports all arrests to the federal immigration enforcement agency, which screens the names to check citizenship status. If ICE discovers an arrestee lacks the proper documents to be in the country, it can begin deportation proceedings even if the individual is exonerated of the charges that led to the initial arrest. The New York bill[]says nearly 50 percent of immigrants released to ICE under this program in 2010 had no prior criminal record, and of those who did, 20.8 percent were convicted of a felony.

The bill currently has 35 co-sponsors, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn, which is enough to overrule a mayoral veto, reports the Gotham Gazette.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is an opponent of the legislation, according to the Gazette, as is Councilman Peter Vallone of Queens. Vallone told the newspaper that information sharing between city and federal agencies is necessary for public safety.

The NYC bill was introduced a day before the Obama administration announced it would review all pending deportation cases to ensure violent criminals and other felons are being deported rather than non-criminal immigrants who enter the U.S. justice system.