Local Cooperation With Federal Immigration Officials Is Needed

By and large, many asylum seekers make their way to the United States seeking a better life.

But let’s not confuse asylum seekers with those who flout our country’s immigration laws and then make matters worse by not obeying our laws while they’re here. Migrants in those instances should face deportation.

The problem, as Republicans in the state Legislature noted last week, is the state has made cooperation with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency incredibly difficult. The issue came to a head in late January when surveillance footage recorded outside a Manhattan homeless shelter shows several men kicking officers on a sidewalk and trying to pry them off a man police had taken to the ground. Police have arrested seven people in connection with the attack. Several of the men have since been bused to the West Coast.

Republicans want to make several changes that likely go too far for Democrats in the state Legislature, but in our opinion the state should require law enforcement officers and courts to notify the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency when an arrested person or defendant is not a United States citizen while amending the state Penal Law to adjust maximum sentences so that undocumented immigrants sentenced to a year in jail are deported. It also makes sense, in our view, for copies of fingerprints and police reports to be forwarded to the ICE while all criminal courts – including county, city and town and village courts – notify ICE if an undocumented immigrant is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor crime.

Democrats are unlikely to move given former President Donald Trump’s place on the ballot for the November election. It was Trump’s efforts to boost immigration enforcement that led sanctuary states like New York to pass bills limiting cooperation with ICE in the first place.

Much like the immigration debate nationally, it’s time for Republicans and Democrats in New York state to find a middle ground. This isn’t a campaign issue, nor should it be a strictly political issue. If undocumented immigrants, migrants and asylum seekers can’t follow the basic laws of our land, common sense dictates they should be sent back where they came from.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today