Yesterday, the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor wrote a letter to New York Times reaffirming the administration’s support of the collaboration between the City’s Department of Corrections and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The letter is available by clicking here. Council Members Melissa Mark-Viverito and Danny Dromm have issued the following statement in response to Mr. Feinblatt’s letter:
“This year the New York City Council has worked diligently to understand the complex issues surrounding the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) current entanglement with federal civil immigration enforcement efforts. It is regrettable that the Mayor’s Office has refused to engage with the City Council in an honest dialogue aimed at developing a sensible and balanced immigration policy for DOC. Instead, as exhibited by a recent letter to the New York Times authored by the Mayor’s Senior Policy Advisor, the Mayor’s Office has distorted the facts and has relied on the ugly politics of fear.
“The facts are that DOC’s current policy is to transfer anyone and everyone the federal government wants to deport into the deplorable immigration detention system, whether or not they pose any real threat. The claim by the Mayor’s Office that this is a public safety issue is in direct conflict with DOC’s actual policy. DOC’s policy does not distinguish between people convicted of serious felonies and those convicted of non-violent misdemeanors. In fact, it does not even distinguish between people who are found innocent and people who are guilty. DOC routinely transfers New Yorkers with no criminal record whatsoever into immigration detention. In his letter, the Mayor’s advisor acknowledged that half of the people affected by this policy have no criminal record. The effect of this policy is painfully exhibited in the case of wrongful arrests, such as a recent case involving the victim of a gay bashing incident who was later exonerated but now faces deportation because of DOC’s policy. Once DOC transfers someone into the custody of federal immigration authorities, most New Yorkers are shipped thousands of miles away to detention facilities in Texas and Louisiana, where they lack access to counsel and cannot effectively defend themselves.
“New York City is spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to subsidize the broken immigration system. We take seriously our obligation to preserve public safety. But we also take seriously our obligation to protect the immigrant families and communities of this city. It is time for the DOC to develop a sensible and balanced policy that stops sending those New Yorkers who pose no threat to society into this deplorable system.”