Campaign Background

ICE-FREE NYC is a public education campaign to reach New Yorkers about supporting an end to collaboration between all New York City agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Currently, the New York Police Department and Department Of Corrections hand over thousands of New Yorkers to ICE through detainer requests (also known as immigration holds) and recently we have found that there are sensitive locations like homeless shelters, courts, etc. where people are intercepted and handed over to ICE.

Detainers are non-binding requests for local police to hold a person beyond the time they otherwise would have been held. By choosing not to release people and to comply with detainer requests, NYC law enforcement agencies hold non-citizen New Yorkers past their scheduled release date with no access to posting bail, allowing ICE to potentially deport them. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has clarified that a detainer is only a request, and local administrations are not required to comply.

In a groundbreaking ruling on Galarza v. Szalczyk, et al. in March of 2014, the Third Circuit concluded 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 Third Circuit held that Lehigh County “was free to disregard the ICE detainer [put on Mr. Galarza].” This ruling further recognizes that states and localities may share liability when they participate in wrongful immigration detentions.

Allowing for people to be intercepted in city agencies and choosing to honor detainer requests makes NYC complicit with the federal system that is shattering lives, families and communities through detention and deportation. We believe in the right to family unity and due process for all New Yorkers. We want to restore the bright line of separation between all NYC agencies and ICE. We believe NYC is fully capable of ushering in an ICE-FREE NYC.

Three reasons why NYC needs to stop all ICE collaboration:

1. New Yorkers have the right to remain with their loved ones and communities.ICE detainers initiate a chain of traumatic events. When NYC complies with detainers, children are left without a parent, a spouse or partner must do the work of two, an employer is left without work done, a landlord is left without a rent check, and the community is left to pick up the pieces. We ask the city to use its resources to support New York families instead of spending millions of dollars to separate our loved ones. By protecting our most vulnerable residents, we will limit unnecessary costs and liabilities and hold NYC to the highest standard.

2. ICE collaboration is a threat to the safety of NYC communities. Immigrants who reside in New York do not trust local law enforcement for fear that any interaction may lead to immigration detention. As a result, people are less likely to report crimes, cooperate as witnesses, or assert their rights when stopped, harassed or racially profiled by police. All this ultimately makes it harder to ensure community safety.

3. ICE collaboration offend values of liberty, due process and justice. The courts impose and oversee a measure of punishment for every individual booked into custody on criminal charges. The criminal justice system already has safeguards to protect public safety. The detainer subverts the legal system’s promise to protect all equally under the law, by punishing non-citizens twice and stripping them of basic protections during criminal proceedings. Non-citizens are tagged for deportation, routinely denied access to bail, jailed for longer, and wrongfully disqualified from alternative release programs. NYC should uphold the constitutional right to be equal under the law, the right to reintegrate into society and to family unity, immigration status notwithstanding.