NY Daily News: Broken Windows Vs. Immigrant Rights
FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2017

Tina Luongo writes in the New York Daily News the many ways New York City is not a true sanctuary city because of current broken windows policing.




NY Daily News
Broken windows vs. immigrants’ rights
By Tina Luongo
March 4, 2017

Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Police Department got it wrong.

Last week, Deputy Police Commissioner Larry Byrne declared at a department media event that “nobody is getting deported for jumping a turnstile” or “for a minor offense.” After these comments were reported, the mayor’s press shop eagerly shared the article across social media, touting the administration’s efforts for supposedly building trust between the NYPD and local communities, all while keeping New York City the safest big city in the country.

As the city’s primary public defender organization in both criminal and immigration court, we at the Legal Aid Society feel the need to set the record straight.

The fact is, turnstile jumping and a host of other low-level crimes are, in fact, going on the records of undocumented immigrants and this is, in fact, placing them at grave risk of deportation.

Pretending otherwise is simply wishful thinking.

Turnstile jumping is often charged by the police as theft of services, a misdemeanor under New York State law and one that is considered a crime involving moral turpitude, and consequently a removable offense under immigration law.

When a person is arrested, even for a misdemeanor, he or she is fingerprinted, with fingerprints then loaded into a database that is shared with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As a result, federal immigration authorities have access to an alleged offender’s last known address and other information that can be used to locate him or her.

So just because the NYPD is not on the phone with ICE communicating specifics does not mean that immigrant families are safe from the feds’ clutches. Fingerprinting is more than enough to put someone on the federal immigration enforcers’ radar, and now, with President Trump’s crusade to systemize rampant deportation, more and more are at risk.

Even under President Obama, misdemeanor arrests have led to families and communities being torn apart.

For example, one Legal Aid client, a young permanent resident, was arrested and placed in removal proceedings after stealing a candy bar at a local supermarket and jumping a turnstile.

Another, whose entire criminal record exclusively consisted of fare beating, was also placed in immediate proceedings because of these charges.

Others with clean slates or small low-level infractions met similar fates with ICE because the agency had access to their fingerprints and cross-referenced with their own records.

All this leads to a much bigger issue: Despite de Blasio’s attempt to appear as though he is leading an effective progressive coalition against Trump, New York is falling far short of taking the necessary steps to make our city a sanctuary.

Just look at what the mayor has said and done over the last two months.

In January before an Albany budget hearing, de Blasio declared that he would consider expanding the list of crimes the NYPD reports to the federal government, thus endangering more New Yorkers with detention and deportation.

That, combined with his refusal to curb broken windows policing, has immigrant New Yorkers previously arrested for low-level offenses living in constant fear.

Just Friday, a 37-year-old man who immigrated to this country legally was picked up by ICE in Manhattan at a routine check-in related to a years-old marijuana conviction. He now faces the possibility of deportation.

If we in the nation’s largest city, this city of immigrants, are to resist the Trump administration’s mania for deportations, we must understand all the ways current and former laws and policies make immigrants vulnerable. We must also be ready to recognize and admit the damage that has been created by low-level law enforcement.

The Trump White House is moving quickly. Our sanctuary polices should always be one step ahead. Mayor de Blasio has plenty of unilateral authority; he should use it. The welfare of our communities and the soul of our city depend upon it.