The City Council passed two bills last week to ensure that New York remains a sanctuary for illegal aliens — even if they’re violent, convicted felons, known gang members or on the terrorist watch list.
Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has spent years chipping away at the ability of the federal government to detain and deport illegals who wind up at Rikers Island.
Now she’s taken it to a new level: She’s shutting down Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s offices at Rikers, and ending virtually all city cooperation with ICE.
Until now, arrestees at Rikers had their names run through a federal database of illegal immigrants. ICE then went after those most likely to pose a threat, particularly previously-convicted felons.
The feds would issue a “detainer,” a request for the city to hold these people for an extra 48 hours, so it could pick them up and put them into deportation proceedings.
These weren’t just people who were in the United States in violation of the law. They’d also been arrested for a crime serious enough to wind them up on Rikers Island, and had other serious “risk markers,” from gang membership to terror ties to actual US violent-felony convictions.
In other words, the policy was not a means of generally rounding up otherwise law-abiding undocumented immigrants, but a way to ensure that the few truly bad apples among them were sent home.
But the council-passed bills — set to become law once Mayor de Blasio signs on, as he’s said he will — essentially offer sanctuary for all but the most egregiously violent offenders.
New York is now the safest place in the country for illegal alien ex-cons to come and ply their trades, because they’re virtually immune to deportation here.
Under the new law, the city adds two new “hoops” for ICE: The city won’t honor any ICE detainer request that’s not specifically accompanied by a warrant signed by a federal judge.
And the city will still ignore these warrants unless the detainee had previously been convicted of a violent felony within the last five years.
So an illegal alien who served a few years in prison after an armed-robbery conviction, but got out in 2008, and now gets picked up again for a “minor” charge, can’t be turned over to the feds for deportation.
Even a convicted murderer on parole could be protected from deportation by Mark-Viverito’s new law. After all, as she says, “New York is a city that respects the constitutional rights and dignity of all residents.”
Even worse, the new law strips out language that used to ensure that illegal aliens who are known gangbangers and get arrested and brought to Rikers would be turned over to ICE.
But perhaps the most galling aspect of the new policy is buried in an apparent exemption for arrestees who are found on the national terrorist watch list.
According to the language of the law, these terrorist wannabes and suspects can be detained by the city for a brief period of time, “provided, however, that if federal immigration authorities fail to present the department with a judicial warrant for such person within the period described above, such person shall be released and the department shall not notify federal immigration authorities of such person’s release.”
Got that? If for whatever reason the feds don’t submit the right paperwork quickly enough, than the NYPD and Correction Deparment must release the terror suspect, and can’t even tell ICE that they’ve let him go.
Speaker Mark-Viverito and Mayor de Blasio have finally transformed New York into the shining city of their progressive fantasies: a place where violent ex-cons, gang members and terrorist suspects who might otherwise be deported are now free to mingle among us, pursuing their hallowed dreams of a better life for themselves. Just worse for everyone else.
Seth Barron runs City Council Watch, an investigative website focusing on local politics.