Crowley, mayor oppose DHS move to prosecute immigrants

Crowley, mayor oppose DHS move to prosecute immigrants
Courtesy of ICE
By Mark Hallum

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and Mayor Bill de Blasio called Homeland Security’s new move to prosecute illegal immigrants a tactic which will result in mass deportations and divide families.

Homeland Secretary John Kelly released memos this week detailing how the department will carry out President Trump’s executive orders to broaden the definition of a criminal alien, while expediting deportations and enlisting local law enforcement to act as immigration officers.

“The Trump administration’s latest immigration proposal is clearly a step toward mass deportations – actions that will make our country less secure and erodes our judicial process by allowing for fast-tracked deportations, regardless of circumstances,” Crowley said. “Instead of focusing resources on comprehensive immigration reform, President Trump’s plan creates a system where individuals seeking asylum are immediately detained, families are forcefully separated, children are punished for fleeing extreme violence, and local law enforcement officers are required to act as immigration agents.”

He warned that the Trump approach will make the country less safe and fly in the face of the nation’s value systems.

By expanding the 287(g) Program, usually only applicable to the border region, to other parts of the nation, Homeland Security plans to partner with police who will act as immigration agents in what the memos describe as a “force multiplier” which has led to the identification of about 402,000 undocumented immigrants between 2006 and 2015 in local jails after arrests, according to one memo.

Immigrations enforcement agents will also have the right to detain and remove any individual who cannot prove he or she has been living in the United States for over two years, another tactic used to turn immigrants back swiftly in the border region.

Kelly is also calling for the hiring of 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 500 additional Air and Marine personnel assigned to strategic locations as needed.

The undocumented immigrants will be deported without a hearing or review except for unaccompanied children unless they are seeking asylum or could face persecution if returned home.

“This dramatic policy shift is hard evidence of the Trump administration’s interest in needlessly tearing apart families and spreading fear in immigrant communities. By targeting those without serious convictions, those who have merely been charged with offenses, or those recent arrivals – including unaccompanied children – who have posed no safety threat to our neighborhoods, the president has chosen the politics of division over our nation’s safety,” de Blasio said. “Let us be clear: immigrant communities living in fear under these rules will be less likely to report crime or partner with law-enforcement agencies to make our communities safer. These New Yorkers will be less likely to involve themselves in neighborhood fabrics at the center of sustained safety and prosperity. Families torn apart will only add to the marginalization of already economically and culturally vulnerable communities.”

James Hong, acting executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action in Flushing, said Trump’s executive orders and recent ICE raids are reminiscent of the The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur, which put a 10 year moratorium on labor immigration from China.

“Immigration issues are Asian-American issues,” Hong said. “With 78 percent of Asian-Americans in New York City being immigrants, it is impossible for us to stay silent in the face of these raids and executive orders. The MinKwon Center and its allies in the community are already seeing waves of confusion and fear, even among those with legal status. It is a travesty that instead of acknowledging the tremendous contributions of immigrants to this city, the federal government is targeting New York for its enforcement.”

According to ICE, an alleged MS-13 gang member originally from El Salvador named Estivan Rafael Marques Velasquez was arrested in Queens on Feb. 16 after being released from Rikers Island when he should have been transferred to ICE custody, according to the agency. A statement by Enforcement and Removal Operations New York Field Office Director Thomas Decker said the city’s sanctuary policy is a safety risk for residents.

“This man is by his own admission a member of a violent street gang and he was released back into the community. Honoring a detainer request is not about politics, it is about keeping New York citizens safe,” Decker said. “ICE continues to welcome changes to the city’s current policy which is creating a potentially unsafe environment for its residents. ICE remains steadfast in solidifying its relationship with local law enforcement in the interest of public safety and national security.”

According to the New York Post, the ICE raids in New York City nabbed about 40 individuals.

A 49-year-old man from Jamaica who has been convicted of sexual assault of a victim under the age of 11 was arrested in the Bronx; a 51-year-old man who was once convicted of sexual offense against a child was arrested in College Point; and a 30-year-old man convicted of rape was arrested in Jamaica.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.