Adams Calls for Change to New York City’s Sanctuary City Laws in Harshest Statement Yet

Adams Calls for Change to New York City’s Sanctuary City Laws in Harshest Statement Yet

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By Emily Ngo | Politico

NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams wants migrants “suspected” of major crimes turned over to federal immigration officials — a proposal that would curtail New York’s sanctuary city policy.

His call for a rollback of the rules — his clearest criticism yet of laws collectively protecting people from deportation — won immediate praise from Republicans who have railed against illegal immigration.

“I want to go back to the standards of the previous mayors who I believe subscribe to my belief that people who are suspected of committing serious crimes in this city should be held accountable,” Adams told reporters at City Hall.

Asked about due process for anyone accused of a crime, the mayor added, “They didn’t give due process to the person that they shot or punched or killed.”

Sanctuary city policies adopted under former mayors Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg in part allowed police to hold those arrested and charged for longer so U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could lodge a detainer on them.

But current rules, adopted under Adams’ immediate predecessor Bill de Blasio, effectively buffer people from federal scrutiny until they are convicted of major crimes.

Adams, a former NYPD captain, has stressed that the majority of migrants and asylum seekers in the city are law-abiding, while condemning individuals who target police officers and repeat offenders.

He raised concerns following a migrant attack of two police officers in a video that went viral last month. But he hadn’t gotten specific until Tuesday, when his chief counsel Lisa Zornberg rattled off the differences between Koch- and de Blasio-era sanctuary city rules during a routine press conference.

Laws from 2014 and 2017 “essentially place strong limitations on the city’s ability to cooperate or to provide even just notification to federal authorities,” Zornberg said.

Recent high-profile incidents involving migrants from the southern border included the January attack on the officers in Times Square and the shooting of a tourist in a Times Square store.

Some Republicans who have denounced sanctuary city rules applauded Adams, a moderate Democrat, while demanding more action.

“If he’s serious about changing the city’s sanctuary laws, he should take executive action or give the City Council legislation to repeal the disastrous 2014 sanctuary law to untie the hands of our NYPD and allow them to cooperate with federal immigration officials who can deport these dangerous individuals from our city,” GOP Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island said in a statement.

Council Republican leader Joe Borelli, also of Staten Island, called the mayor’s comments “a welcome change” in an interview Tuesday.

“It’s going to be hard for people to really justify that it’s unreasonable to expect people who’ve already come here illegally to follow our laws,” Borelli added.

Any repeal of the newer rules would require council action, which Democratic Speaker Adrienne Adams has said she would not take.

“City law does not interfere in the criminal legal process nor any federal immigration law,” she said earlier this month.

Immigrant advocates and lawyers who have pushed against the misrepresentation and politicization of sanctuary city laws bristled.

“What Mayor Eric Adams seeks would result in local law enforcement being able to transfer New Yorkers merely suspected of a crime to ICE, upending local criminal court proceedings while perpetuating family separation and dividing communities,” the Legal Aid Society and several other public defender groups said in a joint statement.

And New York Immigration Coalition’s Murad Awawdeh accused Adams of “choosing to stoke division by ignoring the evidence that makes clear that less crimes are committed in localities with sanctuary policies.”

Like other Adams comments relating to the migrant crisis that have been picked up by national Republican figures, his stance got support from GOP firebrand Charlie Kirkwho posted on X of the mayor: “Good for him. Now he needs to go all the way and move to abolish it.”

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