Council Passes Bill to Curtail Deportation for Jailed Immigrants

By Jill Colvin on November 3, 2011 10:58pm 

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

MANHATTAN — The City Council passed new rules Thursday that will limit the city’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities in dealing with jailed foreigners.

Currently, the city's Department of Correction turns all illegal immigrants who are sent to jail over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), regardless of their innocence or guilt.

But under the new rules, the city will stop turning over individuals who are found not guilty, potentially preventing prolonged detentions as well as hundreds of deportations a year.

The measure still must be signed into law by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

According to the city, nearly half of the 2,552 inmates taken into custody for deportation last year had no prior criminal conviction.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn said as many as 1,500 families have been torn apart by the policy, including mothers whose children were fighting in Iraq and victims reporting domestic assaults.

She called the bill "historical legislation” that will cease “a drag net against all immigrants at Rikers Island.”

And City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, the lead sponsor of the litigation said: "We sent a strong message that we will no longer be complicit in this nation’s broken immigration system."

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