The New York Police Department (NYPD) routinely verifies warrants with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise to keep New York a sanctuary city, a practice that activists ripped as “collusion” with federal immigration authorities.
In the standard process of checking if a defendant has outstanding warrants, NYPD contacts relevant law enforcement agencies, including ICE, which signals that an immigrant has an upcoming appearance in city court. As a result, ICE agents sometimes show up to take custody of the defendant in the courthouse. (RELATED: ICE Fights Back Against New York City’s Sanctuary Policy)
“I think it really is outrageous,” Lori Zeno, co-founder and deputy director of Queens Law Associates, told the New York Daily News. “We’re supposed to be a sanctuary city. What does it mean if our own court system is participating in turning folks in to ICE?”
In one example, the New York Daily News reported, a NYPD administrative aide notified ICE about the arrests of David Gonzalez, 51, and Milton Chimborazo, 35.
Gonzalez, a convicted felon, had previously been deported and had illegally reentered the U.S., and Chimborazo, who was arrested for burglary, had a standing deportation order. ICE agents took Gonzalez into custody after a judge released him but chose not to detain Chimborazo for unknown reasons.
Public defenders representing the two illegal immigrants said they were stunned that NYPD communicated with immigration agents in advance of their clients’ initial appearance in front of a judge. Under the city’s sanctuary law, signed by DeBlasio in 2014, police only honor detainer requests from ICE in cases where a defendant has been convicted of serious or violent felonies. (RELATED: ICE Report Dumps Cold Water On A Favorite Defense Of Sanctuary Cities)
The NYPD’s communication with ICE does not appear to be a violation of the sanctuary policy, however, as warrant verification is a routine part of criminal booking by both local and federal law enforcement agencies. Mayoral spokesman Austin Finan confirmed the notification process, telling the Daily News that “NYPD notifies and confirms with all inquiring and arresting agencies the status of an arrestee who may be the subject of a warrant.”
Zeno said the mayor’s office needs to do more to ensure that the NYPD isn’t assisting ICE in its efforts to detain illegal immigrants.
“The mayor can issue a command to the police department that they shouldn’t be calling ICE,” she told the Daily News.
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