A bill recently introduced in the New York City Council would limit the amount of time a foreign-born person can be detained for immigration purposes after the date of release by New York’s Department of Corrections (DOC). The bill, Intro 656, is supported by a majority of Council members including Speaker Christine Quinn, Daniel Dromm, Melissa Mark-Viverito and 32 other Council members, rendering it veto-proof.
Intro 656 would prohibit the DOC from using city funds to extend the standard time to hold a non-criminal detainee so that the individual could be picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), provided that: the individual has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony; is not a defendant in a pending criminal case; has no other warrants; has not previously been ordered deported; and is not on a terrorist watch list.
Council research has shown that more than 50 percent of the inmates in DOC custody had no prior convictions and, more importantly, that the close ties between DOC and ICE are eroding the trust between immigrants and local law enforcement. This type of mistrust makes immigrant crime victims much less willing to come forward, especially in cases of domestic violence. The bill states that for all of these reasons, the Council finds that cooperation between DOC and ICE cannot be supported by the Council and should not be supported by local tax-payer dollars.
“I am happy that Speaker Quinn is taking action on this important issue — saving the City up to $50 million a year while also protecting immigrants with no prior criminal record from unfair, lengthy detention periods,” said Assemblyman Francisco Moya. “This proposal is tough on crime too, making sure that cooperation does take place in other cases […] this proposal also allows for the necessary cooperation between law enforcement agencies.”