President Donald J. Trump promised tougher enforcement of immigration laws across the country in his first year in office. In doing so, Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a record number of requests to detain illegal aliens in New York City after they have been accused of an additional violation of the law by local police. But it would appear that the New York Police Department, for lack of a better term, politely told the president to kick rocks as they ignored all 1,526 requests.
The New York Daily News reports that the number of detainer requests from ICE increased nearly 20 times higher than the amount of requests from 2016. In President Obama's last year in office, there were only 80 requests made by the federal agency to the NYPD to hold illegal aliens accused of an additional crime for further questioning by immigration officials and potential deportation.
According to NYPD legislative affairs director, Oleg Chernyavsky, the "city can’t hand prisoners over to ICE unless they’ve been convicted of one of 170 serious crimes, and the feds present a warrant."
“That speaks volumes to our intent as a city,” Chernyavsky said. “It’s important for victims of crimes, irrespective of their immigration status, to trust their police and to come forward and inform their police.”
But ICE strongly condemned the move, saying ignoring these requests increases the likelihood of more crime in certain communities.
“The release of criminal aliens back on New York City streets continues to pose a dangerous risk to our communities,” said ICE field office director Thomas Decker. “ICE will continue to dedicate more resources to conduct at-large arrests to ensure the safety of the law-abiding citizens of these communities."
One New York Democrat seemed to have immense pride in defying federal immigration law and refusing to become another part of what he calls "ICE"s deportation machine."
Councilman Brad Lander (D-Brooklyn) said, “There’s every reason to believe from what we know about those detainers that the vast majority of those individuals had done nothing serious." Adding, "Honoring those detainers would have been becoming part of ICE’s deportation machine.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently praised New York City's status as a "sanctuary city" for supposedly promoting positive relations with immigrant communities. Many cities ignore detainer requests because they believe that it will stir distrust amongst the immigrant community, even legal immigrants, with local law enforcement. Their theory is that distrust will breed a more dangerous city, as individuals may fear calling the police over fears of being handed over to federal authorities who could then deport them.