New York, New York – November 3, 2011 – Today, the New York City Council voted 44 to 4 (with one abstention) to limit the City’s collaboration with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). By cooperating with ICE’s detainer orders, the City voluntarily, and under no legal obligation, assists in the deportation of thousands of non-criminal New Yorkers, which costs tens of millions of NYC taxpayer dollars annually, and erodes trust between the City government and millions of New York’s immigrants. Under the new legislation, the City will end the practice of holding individuals for deportation by ICE who pose no threat to public safety. The legislation was sponsored by Speaker Christine C. Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg has recently voiced his support for the measure.
“With today’s landmark vote, New York City is showing that we are not afraid to lead when it comes to immigration issues,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “We are halting a practice that too often leads to the senseless deportation of people who pose no threat to our city. I am confident that this bill will serve as a national model for other states and cities to consider. I want to thank my colleagues, advocates and the administration for all their support as we worked to find a solution that would protect both public safety and immigrants in our City.”
“Today is a historic day for New York’s immigrant communities,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, lead sponsor of the legislation. “The City of New York is sending a strong, unified message that we will no longer be complicit in funneling immigrants who pose no threat to public safety into the detention and deportation system. I thank the Speaker for her extraordinary leadership on this topic as well as Chair Dromm, Make the Road New York, the Cardozo Law School and all others who contributed to this effort. I also thank the Mayor for his pledge of support for this bill and look forward to seeing it signed into law.”
“We applaud today’s historic vote and look forward to the Mayor signing this bill into law shortly. The City Council stood up today for immigrant communities in New York City and across the country. We are eager to collaborate with members of the Council and the Department of Corrections to ensure its implementation in the near future,” said Javier Valdes, Deputy Director of Make the Road New York.
“Today is a great day for immigrants. I know that this legislation will not only allow more people in my community to feel more confident in their worth to this city, but it also gives us hope that together we can fight back against the wave of deportations that have damaged our families across the country, and ultimately for a full and comprehensive immigration reform. The United States Congress should take note,” said Cesar Palomeque, leader of MRNY’s Civil Rights and Immigrant Power Project.
“Today’s vote is not only a major victory for all NYC immigrants, it is an answer to prayer for many who have been unfairly punished by the collaboration between our city and ICE. Victories like these honor New York’s immigrant history, and move us towards justice,” said Rev. Michael Ellick of Judson Memorial Church and the New Sanctuary Movement.
“Our religious traditions teach us to welcome the stranger in our midst, and today the City Council has made New York a more welcoming city. I thank them for their leadership and pray for the swift and effective implementation of this bill that will protect immigrants and keep families together,” said Rev. Dr. Omar Almonte of Central Baptist Church in Brooklyn.
“Cities around the country should follow New York’s lead in standing up for its immigrant communities. Localities that value the contributions of immigrants will no longer be complicit with the worst aspects of the federal government’s unfair deportation system,” said Henriette Vinet-Martin of the Immigration Justice Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
“The Bronx Defenders celebrates this historic step by the City Council to protect the fundamental rights of thousands of non-citizen New Yorkers. As a holistic public defender, we see the devastating toll that the deportation of a family member exacts on Bronx families. Losing the head of household can lead to eviction or force families onto public assistance; deportation of a parent can result in U.S. citizen children being placed in foster care. This bill is an important first step in the struggle to maintain the stability of the families who form the fabric of the communities like the one we serve,” said Robin Steinberg, Executive Director of The Bronx Defenders.
“At the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights we are deeply concerned about local law enforcement collaboration with ICE in Rikers because it is dangerous and unjust to funnel thousands of New Yorkers into what is widely recognized as a broken immigration system. This bill is an important first step towards ending the entanglement between the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement that undermines community safety, as we continue to fight for the rights of all immigrants and a more just immigration system,” said Lili Salmeron, organizer, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.
“This legislation is an important step in the right direction,” said Michelle Fei of the Immigrant Defense Project. “Coupled with Governor Cuomo’s withdrawal from the fatally flawed Secure Communities program, New York is continuing to demonstrate opposition to ICE’s efforts to destroy our immigrant communities.”
“We applaud Speaker Quinn and the City Council and for taking this important first step toward protecting New York City’s communities. The time was long overdue for us to end our collaboration with immigrant enforcement programs that target vulnerable members of our community and funnel them into a broken system of immigration detention and deportation. Passage of the bill moves New York City in the right direction,” said Rick Jones, Executive Director, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem.