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10/23/2014 | Protecting Immigrant Communities

New York City Protects Immigrant Families

On Oct. 15, the New York City Council held a hearing on two bills introduced by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to significantly curtail the city's entanglement with the federal government’s deportation programs. The legislation prohibits the NYPD and the Department of Corrections (DOC) from holding any person in custody on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), unless ICE presents a court-ordered criminal warrant for that person’s arrest. Requests from ICE to the city to hold immigrants are known as "detainers," and this new legislation improves on the city's existing policy of limiting compliance with some immigration detainers.

The Center for Popular Democracy (CPD) is proud to be part of a strong coalition, including our partners Make the Road New York, the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Cardozo School of Law and Northern Manhattan Coalition, that was instrumental in passing the original detainer discretion policy and has never stopped fighting to expand the policy to protect more immigrant families. When New York passed its first detainer policy, there were only a handful of other jurisdictions around the country with similar laws. Today, over 250 localities have such policies.

The new policy also prohibits federal authorities from using DOC’s facilities or resources for the purposes of investigating potential violations of civil immigration law. Thus, ICE will have to give up the office it has been operating, rent free, on Rikers Island for over a decade – the main conduit that results in deportations in New York City.

The signing of these new laws is a huge victory for CPD and our partners and allies, and will prevent thousands of deportations every year, keeping New York City families together and New York communities strong.