Earlier this year, the NYC Council passed legislation, Introduction 1568-2017, a bill to prohibit City agencies from partnering with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to enforce federal immigration laws. The bill would prohibit the use of City resources, property, and information obtained on behalf of the City in furtherance of federal immigration enforcement. It would also require any requests for assistance by federal immigration enforcement agencies to be documented and later compiled into an anonymized report sent quarterly to the Council. It passed by a vote of 41-4 so now city employees are banned from spending any time on duty or using city property to assist in enforcing immigration laws. The move makes legally binding a policy the city has already followed of bowing out of assisting the feds in finding undocumented immigrants for deportation. Another bill, Introduction 1558-2017 bars the Department of Probation from handing over undocumented immigrants in response to requests from the feds. It expands rules that previously applied to the NYPD and city jails, which say officials cannot honor detainers from the feds unless the person they seek has been convicted of any of 170 serious crimes. “We will not waste city resources to help immigration authorities destroy our families,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
The defiant step followed President Trump’s threat to strip sanctuary cities of federal funds, saying they were letting potentially dangerous illegal immigrants go free instead of helping the feds. Earlier, the Justice Department gave New York and three other cities a “last chance” warning that the feds believe they are violating laws requiring cooperation, saying it would nix a $4.3 million grant without proof of compliance. The city has only reinforced its policy. “We’re taking a serious stance and saying that New York is a sanctuary city. We are not going to held federal authorities find immigrants in this city that are no threat to the resident of New York City,” said Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Brooklyn), one of the sponsors.
Meanwhile the attempts of the Trump administration to crack down on sanctuary cities has met new obstacles as US District Court Judge William Orrick issued a permanent injunction blocking an executive order seeking to strip so-called sanctuary cities of federal funding. The ruling is a major setback to the administration’s attempts to clamp down on cities, counties and states that seek to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation by federal authorities. The ruling is the latest instance in which a federal judge has stood in the way of the president’s effort to implement his policies on immigration, joining rulings that have blocked different portions of the travel ban. Monday’s ruling, which followed lawsuits from two California counties, nullifies the January executive order on the matter, barring the administration from setting new conditions on spending approved by Congress. In the judge’s words “The Executive Order threatens to deny sanctuary jurisdictions all federal grants, hundreds of millions of dollars on which the Counties rely. The threat is unconstitutionally coercive.”