A standard critique of the anti-migrant community targets big cities like New York City as so-called “sanctuary cities”, painting them as havens for the undocumented, where they can live free of targeted enforcement and the police profiling and harassment that goes hand in hand with that practice. A report released today, Insecure Communities, Devastated Families, by the Immigrant Defense Project and Families for Freedom indicates that nothing could be further from the truth.
Drawing from records that the New York University School of Law Immigrant Rights Clinic obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, researchers found that between October 2005 and December 2010, ICE apprehended 34,000 New Yorkers, 77% of whom were funneled directly into deportation from the criminal justice system. 91% of those detained lose their cases. During the period studied, according to the report, ICE sent almost 20,000 New Yorkers to far-away detention centers and denied nearly all New Yorkers the opportunity for release. Transfers outside the state occurred regardless of whether those detained had U.S. citizen children. The majority of deportation cases of parents resulted in their deportation.
The report comes two months after the controversial Secure Communities deportation program went into effect in New York State. This program, along with other enforcement policies, has helped break deportation records in the United States while the current administration continues to churn out meaningless memos meant to assuage the Latino population, one of the communities most impacted.
I think there are a few key findings in the report which are especially important to note.
1: While the report is being released in the context of the expanding and now mandatory S-Comm program, according to the report, the majority of Immigration and Customs Enforcement apprehensions in New York (77 percent) are the result of a different program, the Criminal Alien Program. This fact alone is critical in terms of how activists and organizations frame their work. So much of the work (and frankly money) is being poured into anti- S-Comm campaigns, and relies on the good vs. bad immigrant narrative. That is, it frames the problem with S-Comm as rounding up non-criminals and as hindering police-community relations instead of challenging criminality and looking critically at the pre-existing relationship between police and immigrant communities, especially communities of color.
2: Contrary to the narrative of cities as havens for the undocumented, there has been a 60 percent increase in ICE apprehensions in New York.
3: While the Obama administration continues to tout its alleged efforts to keep families together, 23 percent of those detained in NY have kids that are US citizens, 21 percent of those transferred out of NY are the parents of US citizen children, and the parents of 7,111 US citizen children were deported.