By Gina Martinez
City Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) is asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to step up for immigrants.
Lancman was joined by lawyers on the steps of City Hall Tuesday for a press conference laying out specific actions de Blasio must take to protect undocumented New Yorkers from deportation under President Donald Trump.
Lancman asked that the mayor use his authority to change the treatment of fare evasion as a civil offense instead of a criminal offense for violating MTA rules.
“It is time for real action to protect immigrant New Yorkers from Donald Trump,” Lancman said. “It is irresponsible and inhumane to leave immigrant New Yorkers in jeopardy of deportation, when more logical and moral options for holding people accountable for minor offenses already exist. I call on Mayor de Blasio again to finally turn his words in actions and stop criminalizing minor, nonviolent offenses like fare evasion.”
Michael Sisitzky, policy counsel at the New York Civil Liberties Union, said policing tactics in New York City need to change.
“Immigrants arrested for low-level offenses are thrown right into the cross hairs of ICE,” he said “New York’s role as a sanctuary city carries with it a responsibility to end broken windows policing tactics that feed directly into the Trump regime’s calls for mass deportations.”
In January Lancman wrote a letter to the mayor entitled “Talk is cheap” pleading with de Blasio to take more aggressive action to protect immigrants.
“Talk is cheap when New York City promises to defend the immigrants living among us — our neighbors, friends and family — yet willfully exposes them to deportation at the dictate of Donald Trump because minor, nonviolent offenses are criminalized when other, more humane and measured options for holding people accountable are readily available.”
According to Lancman, in 2015 nearly 30,000 New Yorkers were arrested for fare evasion and charged under a section of the New York State penal law that qualifies as a deportable offense under federal immigration law. He pointed out that as mayor, de Blasio has the authority to direct the NYPD to process those cases as civil violations of the MTA’s rules, which is not a deportation trigger.
“It’s time to act,” he wrote. “Stop jeopardizing immigrant New Yorkers through overzealous and expensive policing strategies when fairer, saner alternatives already exist.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart