Feb. 21, 2019 By Christian Murray
The number of arrests, deportations and immigration court proceedings brought by ICE involving New York residents has surged since President Donald Trump took office, according to a scathing report released today by Comptroller Scott Stringer.
The report, titled “The Demographics of Detention,” noted that nearly 2,600 people were deported by ICE officers in New York in 2018, up from about 1,050 in 2016–the final year of the Obama administration. The figures, based on court records, represent a 150 percent increase.
Stringer, who describes Trump’s immigration policies as xenophobic and racist, is calling on the city and state to provide greater protections for undocumented immigrants, who he says play a significant role in the success of the city.
“Let’s be clear: Undocumented New Yorkers are the fabric of our city. But even in a sanctuary city like New York, the escalation of ICE raids, arrests and intimidation is terrorizing the every day life of our neighbors and forcing undocumented New Yorkers into the shadows.”
The number of New Yorkers deported who had no criminal convictions reached 1,144 in 2018, up from 313 in 2016, according to the report. This 265 percent increase represented the largest jump of any ICE field office in the nation.
Furthermore, the number of immigration court cases brought against New York City residents increased to over 19,750 in 2018, up 30 percent from 2016. Nearly half of these cases involved Queens residents.
Stringer is calling on the city to expand its programs that provide free legal services for immigrants facing deportation. Currently, undocumented immigrants are able to get free legal representation through a number of city-funded programs. However, undocumented immigrants convicted of certain crimes are excluded.
Stringer wants the city to allow all undocumented immigrants–including criminals–to be able to access these free services, arguing that all people deserve access to legal counsel, particularly those facing deportation.
Stringer is also calling on the city to continue to support a fund that helps immigrants cover their bond while being detained during deportation proceedings. The median bond set in New York City in 2017 was $7,500.
He is also calling on the state to pass legislation that would restrict ICE officers’ access in and around court houses.
“I stand with Comptroller Stringer in demanding greater protections for families targeted by ICE under the cruel policies of the Trump administration,” said Assembly Member Catalina Cruz, who represents Jackson Heights. “This reprehensible and unjust conduct…can not be tolerated in New York City.”
Stringer said the number of cases brought against immigrants stepped up immediately following Trump’s inauguration, who adopted a tough policy.
He said that when Obama was in office, ICE agents were directed to prioritize the removal of a narrow class of immigrants—namely, those convicted of certain serious crimes or who had only recently entered the country and did not have family or children in the country.
Trump has adopted a wider policy of also going after people who have committed a “chargeable criminal act,” without regard to whether the individual has been convicted, according to Stringer.
ICE, however, has taken exception to New York’s policies and its hostility to the agency. It took a shot at New York officials last month after it conducted a raid that led to the arrest of 118 undocumented immigrants, 107 of whom were convicted criminals or had pending charges.
ICE said that 35 of the individuals arrested had been released by local law enforcement—despite ICE seeking the authorities to place a hold on them. It said the New York’s policies were putting the public at risk.
But Stringer—along with most New York elected officials– argue that ICE has struck fear into the community.
Stringer said that Trump’s enforcement practices and measures such as banning nationals from seven “Muslim” countries—and separating parents from their children at the Mexican border—is leading to anxiety and distrust among immigrant communities.
“ICE has strayed too far from its original mission and has been allowed to function with little to no oversight during the Trump administration as the agency carries out the Presidents continuous attacks on immigrant communities,” said Congress Member Adriano Espaillat, who represents upper Manhattan and parts of the Bronx. ”It remains critical that we continue our efforts to ensure protections and immigrant rights.”