NEW YORK CITY — Two city councilmen are calling on Congress to pass a law requiring U.S. immigration officials to wear body cameras while working in the field to make sure "immigration enforcement activities are conducted in a safe and lawful manner."
Councilmen Mark Levine of Uptown and Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn introduced a resolution Thursday on the steps of City Hall "in order to increase ICE and CBP accountability."
Both Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the officials said, “have long been criticized for abusive practices, rights violations, and a lack of transparency and accountability,” according to a statement.
ICE alone, they said, arrested more than 41,000 undocumented immigrants in the 100 days following the immigration executive orders issued by President Donald Trump.
“This is a policy that would help ensure the fair treatment of all human beings as they interact with ICE,” Levine said. “There’s a clear need for greater transparency, given the increasing number of reports of ICE agents using disproportionate amounts of force during arrests and targeting nonviolent immigrants and their families for deportation.”
Menchaca reiterated Levine’s statements, adding that body cameras should be a requirement, as it will reduce complaints against officers.
“As the elected representative of an immigrant community and as Chair of Committee on Immigration, I have documented the effects of immigration enforcement on families and communities,” Menchaca said.
The two councilmen were accompanied at City Hall by Congressman Adriano Espaillat, Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and Angela Fernandez of Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants.
For Juan Sanchez, who lives and runs a fruit stand near Dyckman Street in Inwood, body cameras should be the start of how to change the relationship and process between immigrants and immigration officials.
“It will help everyone see what’s really going on," Sanchez said in Spanish. "It'll show how both could meet in the middle."
Sanchez, who arrived in the U.S. approximately 25 years ago, said he thinks such a bill will improve how officials and immigrants work together.