Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been sending letters to undocumented New Yorkers with recent police encounters, asking them to go to the agency’s field office in lower Manhattan, and, in at least two cases, initiating deportation proceedings against them, according to a disturbing new report from The Intercept. The tactic points to loopholes and failures in city policy that allow ICE to target immigrants with impunity.
From The Intercept:
The organizations [interviewed by The Intercept], which include the Bronx Defenders, Make the Road New York, and the Immigrant Defense Project, have together documented six cases of ICE letters received by individuals in the New York City area, though they suspect the actual number could be significantly higher. The organizations say the letters are unprecedented in recent New York history, reflecting a “new low” in the agency’s ramped up immigration enforcement efforts throughout the city, and undermining the sanctuary protections trumpeted from City Hall. [...]
According to attorneys, the letters have generally arrived roughly two weeks after the recipients were arrested and fingerprinted by the NYPD. Two of the recipients were arrested for low-level misdemeanor offenses, according to their lawyer, Lauren Migliaccio, an attorney with the Bronx Defenders. Both showed up to their ICE appointment and were detained, despite neither having open removal orders against them or criminal convictions. They are both now in deportation proceedings and remain in ICE custody.
In a statement to The Intercept, ICE attempted to distance itself from the tactic and said the predatory letters were only sent on a “case by case basis.” The agency went on to say that, “Following in person interviews, ERO deportation officers make individual determinations, on a case by case basis, if any enforcement action is warranted.”
This is likely of little comfort to those receiving these letters. According Lauren Migliaccio, an attorney representing two recipients of the ICE letters, her clients were initially arrested for low-level misdemeanor offenses. Such underwhelming arrests aren’t exactly the picture that the Trump administration paints when its trying to beef up anti-immigrant hysteria, complete with MS-13 paranoia and the fictional caravan of rapists.
This also isn’t the only way that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s assurances about city-as-sanctuary have rung hollow to undocumented New Yorkers. Extensive reporting at The Village Voice and elsewhere has revealed how city policy—particularly around low-level infractions and Broken Windows enforcement—has helped feed a deportation pipeline.
“If you speak to the black immigrant community across New York City, they will tell you this is not a sanctuary city. People are put into deportation proceedings for jumping a turnstile. If this was a sanctuary city, the targeting of leaders in our spaces would not be happening,” Carlene Pinto, an organizer and manager of member engagement with the New York Immigration Coalition, told Splinter earlier this year, following the detention of Ravi Ragbir, a longtime community leader and immigrant rights activist.
If the city wants to assure undocumented residents that the local government has their backs, it should know this isn’t what sanctuary looks like.
Read the full report at The Intercept.