Committee Reports

Letter to Mayor de Blasio regarding Protecting Immigrant New Yorkers from Deportation


In a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Bar Association urges him to protect immigrant New Yorkers from deportation by instructing the New York City Police Department, when there is no immediate threat to public safety, to issue civil citations for nonviolent, low-level offenses instead of making arrests.  Signed by the City Bar’s Civil Rights Committee, Criminal Courts Committee and Immigration & Nationality Law Committee, the letter applauds the many steps the Mayor has taken to support immigrant New Yorkers, but adds that “[i]nstructing the NYPD to issue civil citations, whenever there is no immediate threat to public safety, instead of making arrests for low-level offenses will protect our immigrant neighbors, support the NYPD’s efforts to make this city safe, and strengthen the fabric of our city.” Despite the important steps taken to distance the NYPD from federal immigration enforcement, the letter cautions that arresting immigrants in New York for low-level offenses renders immigrant communities vulnerable

Referencing President Trump’s Executive Order prioritizing the removal not only of immigrants who have been convicted of any criminal offense but those who have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved, and those who have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense, the letter raises several concerns that the Administration’s orders “particularly endanger immigrants who have come in contact with the criminal justice system.”  While the City Council’s Criminal Justice Reform Act (CJRA) urged the police to use civil citations whenever possible, the use of these citations remains discretionary even in situations when there is no threat to public safety, e.g., in cases involving violations like fare evasion or public drinking. “Guidelines regarding the use of civil citations are still being developed regarding this subset of non-violent, low-level offenses ahead of a June 2017 deadline. We urge you to take this opportunity to provide the NYPD with additional guidelines regarding the enforcement of non-violent, low-level offenses that are both covered and not covered by the CJRA,” states the letter.