NYC And Feds Continue Battle Over Sanctuary City Status

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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The Department of Justice said Friday that New York City is “soft on crime,” and Mayor Bill de Blasio told Attorney General Jeff Sessions to tell that to a cop’s face. This was an escalation of an already existing war of words between the federal government and the major city.

Shortly after President Trump took office he signed an executive order calling for sanctuary cities to be stripped of federal funding, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement began digging at New York City through press releases. In the span of one month, ICE put out three press releases about arrests of criminals whose immigration detainers had been ignored by New York City officials.

New York had essentially already been called “soft on crime” in one of the statements. (RELATED: NYC Police Union Chief Slams De Blasio And NYPD Leadership: AG Sessions Is Right)

“This is the case of another criminal alien, a felon, who was released back into the streets. Politics and rhetoric are not what keep the people of this great city safe,” Thomas R. Decker, field office director for ICE enforcement and removal operations New York, said on Feb. 27 about the arrest of Dominican illegal immigrant released from a New York City jail.

Mayor de Blasio responded on Friday to the “soft on crime” comment, saying that it is “an unacceptable statement that denigrates the people of New York City and the men and women of the NYPD.”

DOJ spokesman Ian Prior doubled-down and referenced one of the illegal immigrants ICE previously highlighted in a press release.


“As made very clear in the Department’s release, it is New York City’s policies that are soft on crime. Those policies, implemented by New York City’s Mayor and his administration, are directly responsible for a dangerous MS-13 gang member walking out of Rikers Island in February,” Prior said.

Estivan Rafael Marques Valasquez was released from Rikers Island despite the immigration detainer ICE had filed for him. Valasquez was an illegal immigrant MS-13 gang member who had been convicted of criminal possession of a weapon and disorderly conduct.

At the time of his arrest, Decker said, “Honoring a detainer request is not about politics, it is about keeping New York citizens safe.”

NYC is set to lose a few million dollars in federal law enforcement grants.