With President Barack Obama vowing to proceed on immigration reform by executive order, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday signed two bills that would drastically limit the federal government’s ability to deport undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants from New York City. As de Blasio signed the bills on Friday, New York City Council Speaker Puerto Rican-born Melissa Mark-Viverito repeated her support for another measure, supported by many immigrant advocacy groups, giving noncitizen immigrants the right to vote in municipal elections. Mark-Viverito said the bill could be proposed as soon as January next year.
Under one of the new laws, the city will, in many cases, refuse to hand over immigrants in the criminal justice system to federal agents, according to the New York Daily News. In the past, the city sometimes had to turn over people whose cases had been dismissed or who had been arrested on minor charges, the paper said.
Now, it said the city will only cooperate with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) if the agency has a federal warrant, or if the person has been convicted of a serious crime or is on a terror watch list. Another bill gets rid of ICE from its offices on Rikers Island jail in Queens, New York.
“We’re signing legislation that will have a really meaningful effect on the lives of immigrants,” said de Blasio, as he signed the bill, flanked by City Legislators and Carlos Rodriguez, who was mistakenly arrested for trespassing and detained by federal law enforcement authorities for eight months even though the charges were dropped. Rodriquez is still fighting deportation to the Dominican Republic, the Daily News said. “Even though it doesn’t help me right now, I know it helps somebody else out there,” Rodriquez said.
Nearing the end of an Asian trip, Obama, in Myanmar, repeated vows to use executive orders to act on overhauling immigration enforcement. The president said Republicans “have the ability” to pass a comprehensive immigration bill. But many conservative Republicans said they would risk forcing another government shutdown in a bid to block Obama from changing deportation practices.
“Unless Congress pre-empts or blocks the President’s promised executive action, a long-term funding bill is little more than a blank check for amnesty,” said Heritage Action, a Washington-based lobbying group with major influence among conservative Republicans, urging a shutdown threat. [. . .]
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