Five members of the Juniper Park Civic Association criticized Mayor Bloomberg for approving a bill they say will jeopardize public safety during the measure’s signing ceremony, held Nov. 22.
The bill will stop the city from providing the federal government with the names of people police have taken into custody so the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service can move to deport those who are in the country illegally.
Supporters of the bill say many of those who have been turned over to ICE for deportation have been charged with crimes too minor to warrant forcing them out of the United States, have not yet been convicted, and are subject to inhumane conditions in immigration jails.
Bloomberg said the bill is balanced and will not jeopardize the public.
“New York is a city of immigrants, and it is impossible to overstate the role immigrants play in our city’s economy, culture, and civic vitality,” he said at the ceremony. “As such, my administration has gone to great lengths to ensure that immigrants have the opportunity to thrive here in the five boroughs.In keeping with those efforts, Introductory Number 656-A strikes the right balance — protecting public safety for all New Yorkers while ensuring that individuals who have no record of criminal history or pending cases and who have no other record of being a threat to the community are released from Department of Correction custody at the conclusion of their case.”
The bill’s critics, which include city councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), ICE and the Juniper Civic, say the bill is dangerous.
JPCA executive board member Edward Kampermann said the supporters’ real goal is political gain, at the expense of the public.
“Clearly, Christine Quinn and all the Democrats are placing their bet for re-election on pandering to the Hispanic vote, but honest hard working law abiding Hispanics — who vote — deserve better than having criminals with an unknown past lurking in their neighborhoods and canvassing other neighborhoods to ply their trade,” Kampermann said. “How many times do we read of illegal criminals, who have been released back into society, committing heinous crimes such as rape and murder? Too many times.”
Civic President Bob Holden pointed out that anyone who has entered the country illegally has already broken the law, and reminded the mayor of a rape and murder committed in May 2010 in Flushing. The killer was an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Holden also said he would never have imagined that 10 years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, a New York City mayor would limit law-enforcement cooperation with the federal government.
Four members of the public spoke in favor of the bill, which the City Council passed by a wide margin.