Testimony of Eugene J. Glicksman, Co-Chair of the Immigration and Nationality Committee, Regarding Int. 656 in Relation to Persons Not to be Detained

 

TESTIMONY OF EUGENE J. GLICKSMAN, CO-CHAIR,

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY COMMITTEE,

NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION,

BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,

NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

REGARDING INT. 656 – IN RELATION TO PERSONS NOT TO BE DETAINED

 

PRESENTED OCTOBER 3, 2011

 

These Comments are solely those of the Committee on Immigration and Nationality of the New York County Lawyers’ Association. They have not been approved by the Board of Directors of the New York County Lawyers’ Association and do not necessarily represent the views of the Board of Directors.

 

The New York County Lawyers’ Association

Committee on Immigration and Nationality Law

 

Eugene J. Glicksman, Co-Chair

Gilbert C. Ferrer, Co-Chair

TESTIMONY OF EUGENE J. GLICKSMAN, CO-CHAIR,

IMMIGRATION AND NATIONALITY COMMITTEE,

NEW YORK COUNTY LAWYERS’ ASSOCIATION,

BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,

NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL

REGARDING INT. 656 – IN RELATION TO PERSONS NOT TO BE DETAINED

 

PRESENTED OCTOBER 3, 2011

 

On behalf of the Immigration and Nationality Committee of the New York County Lawyers’ Association, this letter is being submitted to urge, as strongly as possible, that the New York City Council adopts the above-cited amendment to the Administrative Code of the City of New York regarding persons not to be detained by the New York City Department of Corrections (“DOC”) on behalf of the federal office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) with the changes prepared and proposed by this Committee.

 

The legislative findings and intent of the proposed amendment clearly state the facts that while the City of New York generally, and the DOC specifically, have no obligation to cooperate with ICE’s Criminal Alien Program (“CAP”), DOC (i) allows ICE agents to maintain a presence at DOC’s facilities, (ii) allows ICE agents to interview DOC inmates at DOC’s facilities, (iii) shares DOC inmate database information with ICE, including place of birth, and (iv) honors immigration detainers issued by ICE for up to 48 hours. The findings go on to clearly show that in 2009 and 2010, roughly one-half of those persons against whom ICE had issued detainers had no criminal convictions or any criminal record at all.

 

The results of honoring these detainers are that families are torn apart, persons who pose no threat to society are processed for deportation, trust and cooperation between the City’s law enforcement agencies and the various immigrant communities is badly damaged or destroyed, and NYC taxpayer dollars are needlessly wasted in these efforts while programs for NYC’s citizens are badly in need of funding. It is for these reasons and more that we support this proposed amendment to the Administrative Code of the City of New York. We believe, however, that the proposed amendment needs further modification before being presented to the full Council for a vote.

 

As proposed, subsection (b) of §9-131 reads as follows:

 

  1. Prohibition on use of department resources. The department shall not use any department resources to honor a civil immigration detainer by: (1) holding an individual beyond the time when such individual would otherwise be released from the department’s custody or (2) notifying federal immigration authorities of such individual’s release, provided that such individual (i) has never been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony; (ii) is not adefendant in a pending criminal case; (iii) has no outstanding warrants; (iv) is not and has not previously been subject to a final order of removal pursuant to 8 C.F.R. 1241.1; and (v) is not identified as a confirmed match in the terrorist screening database.(Emphasis added.)

 

Since the thrust of this amendment is that New York City “…should not be a willing participant in a program that separates thousands of immigrant families each year without a concomitant benefit to public safety,” it cannot be stated too strongly that the presumption of innocence must not be ignored. There can be no dispute that the public at large will benefit by notifying ICE of those convicted of serious violations of law so that they may be removed from the United States in a legal and expeditious manner. However, those merely charged with committing an offense, but who have not been convicted, would have their identities and personal data given to ICE under the above cited provision. Permitting information on such individuals to be shared with ICE would undercut the stated rationale for this amendment; that only those convicted of serious offenses, rather than merely charged, should be placed into removal proceedings. We therefore urge that the cited language be deleted in its entirety from the proposed amendment.

 

We join with the members of the New York City Council who introduced and sponsored this bill in believing that the sharing of information with ICE regarding those whose only “crime” is to have been born outside of the United States should neither be the responsibility nor duty of DOC. Immigration law is Federal law, both to be made and enforced by Federal, not City, agencies. Absent any binding legal requirement, no City agency should voluntarily cooperate with ICE with regard to reporting those non-citizens who are or may be convicted of a serious crime. We believe that New York City should join Illinois’ Cook County Board of Commissioners, who on September 12 voted 10-5 against honoring ICE’s 48-hour voluntary immigration detainers, citing the prohibitive cost of detaining individuals.

 

We strongly urge that you review and accept this proposal in order to reduce existing problems and prevent the creation of even greater and more serious ones. We believe that the proposed amendment to the Administrative Code, with our suggested change, will go far to provide this to all the residents of this City.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

EUGENE J. GLICKSMAN

Committee Co-Chair