Today the ICE-FREE NYC campaign is calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to end all City collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
We must protect our right to remain in our city and to honor New York’s immigrant heritage.
Please READ and SHARE our letter widely! You can use this sample tweet:
Mayor Bill de Blasio
New York City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Subject: ICE shatters New York families. Mayor de Blasio, terminate all City collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Dear Mayor Bill de Blasio,
We are New Yorkers working for an ICE-FREE NYC, campaigning to protect our right to remain with our families and communities without threats posed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and working to preserve NYC’s heritage as a city of immigrants. In May, we sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, Joseph Ponte, calling for an end to detainers and ICE collaboration and we still have not received a response. We now ask that you exercise your authority to end all NYC collaboration with ICE.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has exercised his mayoral authority and joined more than 60 localities nationwide that have stopped holding noncitizens for ICE largely because detainers are a liability and unconstitutional. While those are legal reasons – our primary concern is in the name of human rights and racial justice. NYC must stop being complicit in shattering families and communities.
“To be clear, city agencies, including the NYPD, do not perform immigration duties or inquire about immigration status. The city has in place Executive Orders 34 and 41 that protect the confidentiality of immigration status. With that said, the city is concerned with the appropriate implementation of Secure Communities — which facilitates the sharing of immigration data of individuals arrested by local law enforcement with ICE. The city has taken action to limit the impact of S-Comm in our immigrant communities through new detainer discretion laws that limit who is turned over to ICE when they are arrested for non-serious crimes. Mayor de Blasio is committed to enforcing those laws and ensuring that people are not put on the path to deportation for minor violations.”
Thousands of New Yorkers are severely affected by collaboration between ICE and our city agencies. One study has demonstrated that from October 2005 through December 2010, the parents of 13,521 U.S. citizen children were apprehended in New York. ICE detainers and subsequent detention set off a traumatic chain of events that ripple through New York communities: a spouse or a partner must now do the work of two, a child lives with an uncertain future, an employer is left with work undone, and a landlord is left without a rent check. If current detainer policies and Executive Orders 34 and 41 are meant to protect immigrants, they have been willfully violated.
Detainer discretion bills passed by the New York City Council in 2011 and 2013 limited the city’s compliance with ICE detainers – but with a long list of exceptions. After these touted reforms, between October 2012 and September 2013, the NYC-DOC honored ICE detainers in 73 percent of cases and spent more than $50 million detaining New Yorkers pursuant to ICE detainers. That is shameful for a city known for its immigrant heritage. Alarmingly, ICE successfully transferred its expenditures onto the NYC-DOC when only reimbursing the department approximately $9 million, leaving New York taxpayers to a $40 million bill.
- The orders do not require the honoring of detainers. The orders do not explicitly discuss detainers, which are voluntary requests, and there is no requirement that the City must keep its residents in criminal custody beyond their release date. The honoring of voluntary, administrative (and unreimbursed) requests by ICE thus go far beyond the City’s cooperation that is allowed under the orders.
- The orders also prohibit any city officer or employee from inquiring about a person’s immigration status unless suspected of or being investigated for criminal activity. Many New Yorkers become subject to detainers after their criminal cases are over and even favorably resolved. The NYPD and DOC are violating the executive orders in those cases—where they continue to cooperate with ICE even when a case is over and thus no illegal/criminal activity is “suspected” or being “investigated.”
- People have recently been apprehended at their homes, courts and homeless shelters by ICE – it is unclear how ICE obtains immigration status information within the context of the executive orders. The Orders are clear that the City shall not disclose immigration status, which is considered “confidential information,” unless suspected of illegal activity, other than mere status as an undocumented alien.
The city’s collaboration with ICE with programs like Secure Communities (S-Comm) invites racial profiling and discourages victims, including victims of police brutality, from exercising their rights. In fact, New Yorkers led by a statewide coalition of 80 advocacy groups and 38 state legislators, rejected S-Comm and won a campaign to get rid of that policy in 2011. The Department of Homeland Security defied the wishes of our state and Governor Cuomo, but we stand by our convictions. This program never did and never will belong in New York City.
ICE is not a trustworthy agency. It constantly shifts positions on its own policies absent any mechanisms for public accountability. In its efforts to get New York to agree to sign on to S-Comm, ICE assured officials that local jurisdictions could simply choose not to participate. ICE later conveniently changed its position, stating the program was mandatory. In localities with unclear detainer policies, ICE is using unscrupulous techniques such as conducting raids, issuing make-believe warrants, and other methods in lieu of detainers. For example, in light of the tremendous pressure from city administrators, ICE is resorting to issuing administrative warrants (Form I-200) in place of detainers. Although these are labeled “warrants,” they are only issued by an ICE agent, are not approved by a judge, and do not safeguard civilians’ constitutional rights. At least one federal district court has found that an ICE “warrant” is not a valid warrant.
It is important to note that a policy against ICE detainer requests does not release anyone into the community who is not otherwise eligible to be released. Using the criminal justice system as a gateway for immigration enforcement is feeding off a system that is racially biased at every stage (from apprehension through racial profiling, to legal representation, to sentencing). NYC hands people over to ICE who were convicted within the past ten years. When one in nine adults has been convicted of a crime in the last ten years it is no surprise that the detainer and lack of protections have led thousands of immigrants (disproportionately of color) to be deported after contact with the city’s criminal justice system. People of color are stopped on the street and arrested at nearly nine times the rate of white people, and 83% of foreign-born New Yorkers are people of color.
Mayor, we urge you to end ALL ICE collaboration without exception. You have the authority to end all ICE collaboration and to fulfill your administration’s promise of a safer and more accessible New York City for ALL immigrants.
We urge you to use your executive authority to amend previous orders to:
- Explicitly prohibit the NYPD, DOC, and any City agency from detaining New Yorkers at the request of ICE,
- Explicitly prohibit the sharing of information about New Yorkers with ICE, such as probation databases where individuals’ immigration status might be revealed, and
- Explicitly prohibit ICE near sensitive locations including hospitals, courts, homeless shelters, public demonstrations, community centers, places of worship and schools.
We would like to meet with you to discuss how we can protect our right to remain in our city and to honor New York’s immigrant heritage.
 The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has clarified that a detainer is only a request and local administrations are not required to comply. American Civil Liberties Union, Third Circuit Appeals Court Rules That Immigration Detainers are Non-Binding Requests in Ground-Breaking Case, (Mar. 4, 2014), http://bit.ly/1rvL2PS. In March of 2014, the Third Circuit concluded in Galarza v. Szalczyk, et al. that immigration detainers do not and cannot compel a state or local law enforcement agency to detain people they suspect are subject to removal. The ruling further recognizes that states and localities may share liability when they participate in wrongful immigration detentions.
 A federal judge in Central Oregon decided in April of 2014 that Ms. Miranda-Olivares’ Fourth Amendment rights were violated when Clackamas County incarcerated her without probable cause based on ICE’s request to detain her. Because the County violated her constitutional rights, it will have to pay her. Since the decision, 13 counties in Oregon are no longer honoring detainer requests to avoid any liabilities. Gosia Wozniacka, Oregon Ruling Spurs Halt on Immigration Detainers, Associated Press (Apr. 17, 2014, 8:23 pm), http://bigstory.ap.org/article/oregon-ruling-spurs-halt-immigration-detainers.
 NYU School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic, Immigrant Defense Project & Families for Freedom, Insecure Communities, Devastated Families, New Data on Immigrant Detention and Deportation Practices in New York, July 23, 2012, available at http://bit.ly/1hKbgpv.
 N.Y. State Dep’t of Criminal Justice Servs., Computerized Criminal History Sys., New York City: Adult Convictions By Year (2014).
 N.Y.C. Dep’t of City Planning, The Newest New Yorkers: Characteristics of the City’s Foreign-born Population 9 (2013), available at http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/census/nny2013/nny_2013.pdf.