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Know Your Rights
Source: NY1
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Council Committee Discusses Immigration Concerns at Rikers

The City Council Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice held a hearing Wednesday about the City Department of Correction’s cooperation with Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. NY1’s Roger Clark filed the following report.

Immigration advocates and elected officials argued Wednesday that the city’s Department of Correction should not be in the deportation business and are questioning its relationship with federal immigration authorities.

“The department has continued to allow ICE to maintain a trailer on Rikers Island, and to provide ICE officials with access to certain computerized information, including an inmate’s book and case number, the NYSID, admission date to DOC, date of birth, place of birth, and present housing facility,” testified Correction Commissioner Dora Schriro.

Schriro told a City Council hearing looking into that relationship that by mayoral order, correction has to cooperate with federal authorities in investigating and apprehending undocumented immigrants suspected of criminal activity. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she understood the relationship is based on the goal of public safety but questioned the extent.

“Many appropriate concerns have been raised that the way the Department of Correction is working with ICE, is in a way that has granted them such latitude, that the implementation of this program goes far beyond in its actual work just protecting New York City citizens from those who could commit crimes,” Quinn said.

Immigrants rights advocates agreed with Quinn, claiming correction is funneling between three and four thousand New Yorkers each year into ICE detainment.

“When someone comes into DOC custody, DOC is participating in ICE immigration investigations by identifying all foreign born New Yorkers for ICE,” said Javier Valdes of Make The Road New York.

Immigrant advocates say it costs the city as much as $50 million a year to detain immigrants for ICE, but the correction commissioner said the amount is far less at about $56,000.

While most every Council member called for a change in the way DOC and ICE work together, a few were on the same page with the current arrangement.

“The low hanging fruit is illegal aliens who committed a second crime. Let’s start by deporting those. And I applaud those efforts, and don’t applaud these efforts here today to eliminate immigration from our jails,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone.

ICE was invited to send a representative to testify but declined. NY1 has reached out to the agency for comment.