April 3, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
Legislation was passed in the New York State budget Sunday that will protect immigrants from facing deportation after being convicted of misdemeanors.
The One Day to Protect New Yorkers Act, sponsored by Jackson Heights State Senator Jessica Ramos and Assembly Member Marcos Crespo, shortens the maximum sentencing for class A misdemeanors from 365 days to 364 days, a maximum already adopted by seven other states.
The previous one year maximum sentence for a misdemeanor, for a legal resident (green card holder) or an undocumented immigrant, could mean automatic detainment, deportation, and rejection from relief programs, even if the defendant did not spend one day in jail. The potential sentence is what triggers the consequences.
Several advocacy groups such as the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP) and The Fortune Society have been working to pass this legislation for three years, arguing that change would help protect immigrants in Queens.
“Immigrants are our neighbors and our family, and they make up the vibrant fabric of our communities,” Ramos said. “By passing the One Day Bill in the 2019-2020 budget, New York is vowing to protect our immigrants and keep New York families together.”
The bill comes at a pertinent time, according to a report released by the IDP, since New York City was found to be the site of 75 percent of courthouse ICE arrests in the United States, with Queens and Brooklyn leading among the boroughs.
Queens, according to the report, saw 33 arrests in 2018 by ICE of non-citizens at the Queens courthouse. This bill is meant to decrease this number as well as restore a judge’s discretion as to whether the circumstance warrants a deportation or not.
“In the face of cruel and escalated threats to immigrants, we applaud the leadership of New York for taking a firm stand against the devastation caused by ICE’s cruel and inhumane detention and deportation system by passing One Day for New Yorkers,” said Mizue Aizeki, Acting Executive Director of the Immigrant Defense Project in a release.
“One Day moves us forward in the fight against criminalization, and towards more freedom and power for New York’s vital communities,” Aizeki said.
The new bill passed in the Executive Budget late Sunday and the new legislation is effective immediately.