Ira Mehlman

Explicitly excluded from those the city will detain are deportable aliens who have been convicted as “youthful” or “juvenile” offenders (which includes people up to age 19 in New York). Nor does Ordinance 656 make an exception for aliens with gang affiliations. In other words, Edwin Ramos’s east coast alter ego will be free to walk out of the Rikers Island detention facility back onto the streets of New York.

Other jurisdictions have complained about the cost of holding deportable aliens and have asked the Feds to pick up the tab. But, New York makes no such pretense in an effort to justify its policy. The explicit legislative intent of the City Council is that “cooperation between DOC and ICE cannot be supported by the Council and should not be supported by taxpayer dollars.” Moreover, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, one of the ordinance’s authors, states with evangelical fervor, “We are confident that this will serve as a national model for other states and cities to consider.” Sadly, there is likely to be no shortage of willing jurisdictions prepared to follow New York’s lead.

With self-righteous irony, New York’s elected leaders state that they do not wish to be “willing participants in a program that separates thousands of immigrant families each year without a concomitant benefit to public safety.” No doubt the remnants of the Bologna family and numerous other victims of crimes committed by deportable aliens who have been shielded by harebrained policies like Ordinance 656 might see it differently.

Not releasing Edwin Ramos would not only have been a benefit to public safety in San Francisco, it would also have avoided the permanent separation of the Bologna family. Sadly, their tragedy is not unique. Similar senseless and avoidable murders in Los Angeles, Newark, New York and other cities can be traced directly to policies designed to protect illegal aliens.

The question is not if Ordinance 656 will claim more innocent victims; it’s a matter of how soon. One thing is for certain: When it does happen, neither Mayor Bloomberg nor Speaker Quinn will be there to look the families of the victims in the eye and explain why protecting criminal aliens was more important than protecting their loved ones.


Ira Mehlman

Ira Mehlman is the Media Director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.