October 23, 2016
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Advocates and Leaders Launch Campaign to "Get NYC Out of the Deportation Business"

New York, NY - A coalition of immigrant advocates and religious leaders, including Make the Road New York, the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, and Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, gathered with community members at Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan to launch a campaign to end New York City's involvement in the federal governments' enforcement-only immigration policy.

Over the past several years, federal immigration agents have established a permanent presence on Rikers Island and in other New York City Department of Corrections ("DOC") facilities. Without any oversight, accountability or written agreement U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") agents have regularly engaged coercive and deceitful interrogations of DOC detainees. Data from a Freedom of Information Act request, released for the first time today, demonstrates that approximately 4000 DOC detainees are subject to such ICE interrogations each year, leading to deportation proceedings for approximately 3000 New Yorkers per year. "Each time a New Yorker is plucked out of Rikers and sent into the black hole of immigration detention, there is a New York City family left behind - leaving the deportees' families abandoned in New York and dependent on our City's strained social service system. It is not in our City's interest to be complicit in a federal deportation policy hijacked by the politics of fear," said Rev. Giovanny Sanchez, Senior Minister of the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Brooklyn and a leader of the New Sanctuary Coalition.

The large majority of people in DOC custody targeted for these ICE interrogations are pre-trial detainees who still enjoy the presumption of innocence. During these interrogations, ICE agents use heavy-handed tactics and routinely deny the detainees their most basic constitutional rights - including the right to be represented by an attorney. As a result, many New Yorkers who were wrongfully arrested, who are later found not guilty of any crime, who were arrested for minor charges, who are eligible for or in the process of getting legal status, who are asylees and refugees fleeing persecution, or who are green card holders who have spent nearly all their lives in New York end up in immigration detention. "The reality is that immigrants are becoming less willing to call the police when they are witnesses or victims of crimes because they fear that even a wrongful arrest can lead to deportation. When any community is fearful of the police it makes us all less safe," says Javier H. Valdes, Deputy Director of Make the Road New York.

"My brother in law did nothing wrong. He worked paid his taxes and raised his family. The charges they put him in Rikers for were dropped but now because of ICE he is in detention in Texas. ICE is trying to give him a life sentence of exile from his family," adds Florentina a member of Make the Road New York.

Following meetings with the above groups, former DOC Commissioner Horn agreed to make some positive changes to help protect the rights of those interviewed by ICE at Rikers. From now on, before being interviewed, detainees will have to sign a form consenting to the interview with ICE and DOC corrections officers will be given training so that they can make detainees aware that the interviews are voluntary.

Today, the advocates and religious leaders announced a campaign to get New York out of the deportation business. They plan to advance City Council legislation to end New York City's participation in ICE's dishonest, immoral, and dangerous enforcement operations by, at minimum:
  • Refusing to allow ICE access to pre-trial detainees;
  • Prohibiting the collection or sharing of immigration data about pre-trial detainees with ICE;
  • Refusing to accept ICE detainers on New Yorkers who have been promised a path to legalization; and
  • Requiring ICE to observe the legal rights of all New York City detainees.

Make the Road New York
301 Grove Street, Brooklyn, NY 11237
(718) 418-7690

New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City
239 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012
(212) 477-0315

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