Lawmakers unveil bill to end city’s sanctuary status amid immigration crisis

By Around the Web

Manhattan (Pixabay)
Manhattan (Pixabay)

Jason Hopkins
Daily Caller News Foundation

Amid a wave of illegal immigration and high-profile crime incidents, a bipartisan group of New York City council members introduced legislation Thursday to roll back the city’s sanctuary policies.

The bill, introduced by New York City Council’s Common Sense Caucus, would repeal laws that limit New York City law enforcement’s ability to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), according to the text of legislation. It would also roll back a law that bars city officials from partnering with ICE agents to enforce federal immigration law and prohibitions on the use of city resources to assist deportation officers.

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Members of the Common Sense Caucus —which is made up of both Republicans and Democrats — said in a press release that repeal of the city’s sanctuary laws would “enhance” law enforcement’s ability to ensure safety and security.

“We have enough criminals in this city; we don’t need to import more and protect them as well,” Council Member Robert Holden, a Democrat, said in a press statement. “Repealing the laws that have created a sanctuary city status is common sense.”

“Those who are wanted for heinous crimes back home or commit crimes in our country should be deported without hesitation,” he continued. “We aim to end this reckless social experiment once and for all.”

The bill takes specific aim at repealing laws enacted under former Mayor Bill de Blasio, an ardent critic of federal immigration enforcement. De Blasio in 2014 signed into law a bill that largely prohibits the New York Police Department from working with federal immigration authorities, and in 2018 he enacted legislation that reinforced on this policy.

However, as record numbers of illegal immigrants flock to the city and high-profile crimes committed by migrants make headlines, city leaders have begun to shift on the issue.

More than 200,000 migrants have overwhelmed New York City since 2022, according to local reports. The migrant influx prompted Mayor Eric Adams to declare 5% budget cuts in September for government programs and services in order to pay for their housing and other services, and in August he said the city was reaching a “breaking point” from the sheer volume of migrants.

The city’s sanctuary status entered the spotlight again when it was confirmed that Bernardo Raul Castro Mata, a 19-year-old man from Venezuela accused of shooting two New York City Police Department cops on Monday, entered the country illegally.

“Every one of our so-called sanctuary city laws should be repealed and it is time we make that case directly to the people,” Minority Whip Inna Vernikov, a Republican, said in a statement. “Happy to see this legislation introduced, it has my full support and advocacy and I encourage all New Yorkers who want citizenship to mean something again in this city and country to call their representative to support this repeal.”

Council Member Salman Yeger, another Democrat, was also unequivocal in his support for the bill: “Giving no-questions-asked sanctuary to criminals is not a pro-immigrant policy; it is a pro-criminal policy,” he said Thursday.

It’s not immediately clear how the bill will fare in a city council dominated by liberal Democrats. In response to a local media inquiry, Mayor Adams said he would review the legislation before taking an official position.

However, there does appear to be a shift within the mayor’s office. ICE officials confirmed last month that Adams’ office had been in talks with federal immigration authorities on how to better coordinate their efforts and work around the city’s sanctuary laws.

“I’ve been working with the mayor’s office, I have had dialogue with them,” Ken Genalo, the NYC regional field director for ICE, said of the talks. “I give them kudos — the prior administration under Mr. de Blasio … there was no dialogue at all.”

Adams’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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