by Ana Maria Archila, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
New York - In July 2009, Ricardo Muñiz, an openly gay Mexican immigrant, was the victim of an anti-gay beating in Brooklyn. The NYPD failed to designate the incident as a hate crime, despite Ricardo's multiple injuries and the details of the police report. Instead, Mr. Muñiz was arrested several weeks later, accused of having attacked his two homophobic assailants. Mr. Muñiz has been awaiting trial in Riker's Island jail for almost two years, unable to post bail because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed a detainer on him. Mayor Bloomberg's policy is to honor all federal immigration detainers without exercising any discretion. Today, the long awaited verdict on Mr. Muñiz case has finally been delivered and Ricardo has been declared innocent of all charges.
Notwithstanding Mr. Muñiz innocence, he remains in detention at the City's Department of Corrections at City tax payers' expense and will soon be turned over to federal immigration authorities. Because of New York City's collaboration with ICE, Ricardo will be separated from his family and sent back to a country where he endured years of homophobic abuse.
ICE deports 3,000 to 4,000 New Yorkers from NYC's Department of Corrections every year. Ricardo is just one example of the thousands of New Yorkers who are put in deportation proceedings despite being found innocent of the crimes of which they were accused.
The NYPD should do what they failed to do two years ago and classify the attack on Mr. Muniz as a hate crime - allowing him to apply for a U-Visa.
We urge Mayor Bloomberg to protect Mr. Muñiz and others like him by ending New York's subsidization and support of unjust collaboration with federal immigration enforcement. New York City should stop facilitating the deportation of innocent New Yorkers.