Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who represents parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island, is calling on Mayor de Blasio to amend the city's current sanctuary policy by adding 447 offenses to a list of crimes that trigger immediate cooperation between the NYPD and ICE.
Currently, the city maintains a list of 170 "violent or serious" felonies for which they are willing to meet ICE requests on civil immigration detainers. As part of New York's sanctuary policy, the city prohibits cooperation and information-sharing with federal immigration authorities for low level offenses such as marijuana possession or turnstile jumping.
Malliotakis's list, released online Thursday, would have the city cooperating with federal detainer requests on a wide-ranging assortment of crimes, including minor offenses such as making graffiti, fortune telling, and jostling. The proposed list also includes various degrees of grand larceny, sexual abuse, and welfare fraud.
"My opinion is if you commit a crime you should be deported," Malliotakis told Gothamist on Thursday. "I know that's not the mayor's opinion. But I believe we can find common ground in some of the [crimes] that were explicitly mentioned, like forcible touching, patronizing abuse of a minor, and welfare fraud."
Malliotakis also called it "alarming" that the city has only complied with 32 of the 584 detainer requests that they've received since the resolution impeding cooperation was passed in 2014. "If they're issuing a detainer request, it's for a reason," she said.
Some immigration activists, however, believe Malliotakis's claim that the city is protecting noncitizen lawbreakers misunderstands the current situation.
"The practical impact of what she's saying is that we should be handing people to ICE who committed a large variety of crimes," said Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives for the New York Immigrant Coalition. "But the reality of immigration law is that the facts don't matter. Very often you see people who will take a plea because there's other factors that are being considered. The immigration consequences can be very harsh."
Mackler also noted that the real effect of such an expansion would not be increased safety, but further demonization of the immigrant community. "We know that immigrants are actually far less likely to commit crimes than other demographic groups, but if they're afraid of reporting crimes, then we're all less safe," she said.
This view was recently endorsed by police Commissioner James O'Neill. In a memo to officers last month, O'Neill wrote, "It is critical that everyone who comes into contact with the NYPD, regardless of their immigration status, be able to identify themselves or seek assistance without hesitation, anxiety or fear."
But both the NYPD and the Mayor have drawn criticism in recent weeks for their continued commitment to "Broken Windows" policing, which some say puts immigrants at risk of deportation for low level offenses like turnstile jumping. Even with New York's "sanctuary policies," the NYPD still sends the fingerprints of every person they arrest to a database accessible to Department of Homeland Security.
De Blasio, for his part, has expressed a willingness to expand the list of 170 crimes. At a budget meeting in Albany on Wednesday, the mayor noted, "We're going to look at a number of other offenses to make a decision." He would not offer a timeline about when that decision would come.