New York City wants to limit detention of immigrants

A proposal in New York City would no longer honor detention requests issued by immigration authorities without a warrant from a federal judge. According to the New York Times, the proposal was announced by the City Council.

The proposal also adds that an immigrant may only be held if the individual has been convicted of a “violence or serious crime,” even if a warrant has been issued. Officers from the Correction Department will not be allowed to aid in the enforcement of civil immigration laws unless it is to honor a valid detainer request, the source reported.

In addition, there would no longer be immigration officials stationed at Rikers Island, a jail complex that has long been an office location for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he supports the legislation. He added that it will affirm New York’s status as “a city of immigrants, where dignity and an individual’s right to due process will be protected,” the source reported.

Before introduction of the new legislation, New York City was already distancing its cooperation from federal immigration laws. According to the source, the city only honors detention requests without a warrant from a judge if an individual is accused of a felony or certain misdemeanors.

For several years, federal officials have requested local and state law enforcement agencies to hold immigrant detainees for as many as 48 hours after they are due to be released from jail. The source reported that many of those who continue to be held at the request of immigration officials are then transported to federal custody and end up going in front of a judge of deportation proceedings.

Mark-Viverito’s office said that federal detainer requests are voluntary and municipalities are not required to honor them. Other states including Rhode Island and Pennsylvania changed their laws to state that immigrant detainers should not be kept in jail without a legitimate reason.