Sharp Increase of Undocumented Immigrant Arrests in NYC  

Many immigrants move to New York because they believe they will be protected despite lacking legal immigration status. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

In January 2017, when Donald Trump was sworn in as president, (…) Mayor Bill de Blasio, along with the City Council, stressed that the Big Apple “is and will continue to be a sanctuary city.”

That has not prevented the number of arrests of undocumented immigrants from rising in the five boroughs. According to the most recent report published by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), New York City recorded 35 percent more arrests in fiscal year 2018, totaling 3,476 out of the 158,581 cases reported nationwide.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca, from the council’s Committee on Immigration, said that the figures demonstrate that universal legal representation needs to become a “legislative priority.”

“We cannot censor the outcome of Trump’s deportation machine if we are not willing to give everyone who is trapped an opportunity to fight,” said Menchaca, who introduced a bill in early September to forbid any kind of contract between the city government and the federal immigration agency.

(…) The report indicates that deportations in New York City rose 29 percent in fiscal year 2018, more than the national average of 13 percent. Menchaca said that the solution is to increase legal representation aid.

(…) ICE, however, stressed that the arrests remain focused on foreigners who pose a risk to national security, and stated that 66 percent of them are convicted criminals, most of them for crimes committed under the influence of alcohol. Additionally, they said that 5,914 of the undocumented immigrants who have been deported were classified as known or suspected gang members or terrorists, an increase of 9 percent compared to fiscal year 2017.

In sum, in 2018 “la migra” carried out 15,111 more arrests than in 2017 at a national level. This is a rise of 11 percent, and signals an upward trend after the 30 percent spike seen in 2017 compared to 2016.

(…) In May, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) reported that detentions of immigrants without a criminal record in the New York area had increased more than 225 percent, and arrests in general went up 65 percent (including people with a criminal history).

“Law enforcement against New York immigrants does nothing to make us safer,” said Matt Dhaiti, spokesman for MOIA. “New York City is working with federal associates in the interest of public safety, not to be an arm to enforce immigration law.”

(…) In New York, approximately 500,000 residents are undocumented. Although the NYPD does not collaborate with immigration agents, ICE is allowed to arrest anyone they want.

(…) Javier H. Valdés, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, had strong words for President Trump, saying that his “deportation machine is devastating immigrants in New York and the entire country.”

“The most significant way in which New York can prevent these dishonest agencies from putting our people in cages is for the state to reinstate access to driver’s licenses for all, regardless of immigration status, in 2019,” said Valdés. “And the City of New York must restore access due process for all (and) provide all immigrants facing deportation access to a lawyer.”

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