Pols Push Bill to Curtail Deportation for Some Jailed Immigrants

By Tom Liddy on October 2, 2011 5:33pm 

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
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Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz

MANHATTAN — A group of local pols pushed a bill Sunday that would curtail the city jail system's cooperation with federal immigration authorities in order to protect inmates without criminal records.

"We need to stop needlessly and excessively deporting people who have had no prior criminal records," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

The push came on the eve of a Council hearing Monday on Intro 656, legislation that looks to create a category of people that the city will not detain for the federal Immigration and Customs enforcement.

According to data provided by the officials, 2,552 of the 13,295 foreign born people admitted into the city's jail system in 2010 were taken into ICE custody for potential deportation.

But of those, nearly 50 percent had no prior criminal record and just 20.8 percent had a prior felony conviction.

"The Council finds that the current level of cooperation between law enforcement and ICE facilitates the deportation of as many immigrants as possible, without regard to their criminal records or whether or not they actually pose a threat to society," says the bill, which was introduced in August.

The legislation would bar the city from handing over immigrants to the feds in cases where prosecutors decline to pursue charges against them and they have no criminal record or warrants, according to the New York Times.

Mayor Bloomberg threw his weight behind the bill on Friday in a major boon to the legislation, the paper said.

"As a city that values the contributions of our immigrant communities, we can no longer allow immigration agents to have unfettered access to inmates in our city's jails," said City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito.

"This piece of legislation ensures that law enforcement officials can continue to keep our neighborhoods safe without threatening their relationships with immigrant communities or needlessly separating immigrant families."

The city is home to 2.9 million immigrants who account for 43 percent of the city's workforce, the legislators said.

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