Immigration enforcement is replete with deeply-flawed polices
that have triggered racial profiling and a host of civil and human rights
violations. So why is the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC)
cooperating with immigration agents instead of questioning their practices?
At the Rikers Island Correctional Facility, immigration agents operate with
office space courtesy of the city to sift through inmates. Since 2004,
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has detained at least 13,000 people
out of Rikers.
ICE agents, advocates say, have applied coercive and deceitful tactics on
inmates, thereby undermining their right to due process. The agency has no
policy on the use of interpreters at Rikers.
ICE claims it is plucking out criminal aliens. Yet at least 80 percent of
the people at Rikers are awaiting trial on charges for which they have been
accused, not convicted. ICE can basically sweep up individuals who are in the
middle of legalizing their status and who have been wrongfully arrested or later
found not guilty of any crime.
What makes this practice more suspect is that ICE will not reveal its
screening process. ICE does not disclose how it determines who is undocumented,
a permanent resident or a citizen. It is unclear whether ICE is accessing city
data beyond the publicly accessible information Corrections is mandated to make
The DOC has taken steps to provide interpretation and train staff, under no
legal obligation. But this is not far enough in the face of a federal agency so
broken that it has even failed to publicly report more than 100 deaths of
immigrants in its custody.
Advocates** are calling on the City Council to pass legislation
that would bar ICEs access to pre-trial detainees, among other measures. We
strongly urge the Council and Bloomberg administration to act immediately to
adopt these policies.
**Including Make the Road New York