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Just How Safe Are Undocumented Immigrants in New York City?

HOST INTRO: Since taking office, Donald Trump has been clear that undocumented immigrants who commit crimes must be deported. One of Trump’s first Executive Orders, signed January 25th…

Hauptman_Trump Host Intro: Cracks down on sanctuary cities…empowers ICE officers to target and remove those who pose a threat to public safety (0:11)

HOST INTRO: The biggest sanctuary city of all? New York City. There’s no love lost between Trump and Mayor De Blasio. And the city has pledged to continue resisting those Executive Orders. Some people, though, are proposing changing policing tactics that put many undocumented immigrants at risk in the first place. Max Hauptman reports.

HAUPTMAN 1: There are almost one and a half million bench warrants in New York for misdemeanors. Some with a warrant are undocumented immigrants, and it’s these small crimes that first flag them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

PEARCE 1: Contact with the criminal justice system has traditionally been a way that many undocumented folks have come to the attention of ICE. (0:06)

HAUPTMAN 2: That’s Jacqueline Pearce, a teaching fellow with the Cardozo Immigration Clinic.

PEARCE 2: If you happen to have a minor criminal conviction on your record for something like possessing marijuana or for jumping a turnstile. (0:09)

HAUPTMAN 3: Mayor De Blasio has been adamant the city will protect undocumented immigrants who have been living here peaceably.

De Blasio 1: If someone has a small amount of marijuana, or someone ran through a stop sign, and that’s why they might be deported and have a family torn apart or a bread winner taken away from their children, we’re not going to do that. (0:12)

HAUPTMAN 4: For Pearce and many others, though, the best way to keep undocumented immigrants safe from deportation is to stop arresting them in the first place. And that would mean a fundamental change in policing.

PEARCE 3: One of the pushes is to end this style of Broken Windows style policing that ends up sweeping up so many individuals of color in the first place. (0:08)

HAUPTMAN 5: Broken Windows is a term for all of those small, quality of life offenses. And there are thousands of outstanding warrants dating back 10 and even 20 years. It’s ultimately up to the District Attorneys to prosecute these cases, and many have proposed to start expunging them instead. That would help protect undocumented immigrants with an outstanding warrant. This isn’t the first time New York has split from federal immigration policy, though. In 2014, the city passed the Detainer Law, which essentially shields undocumented immigrants detained in New York from being quickly turned over to ICE.

GILLMAN 1: It sought to end cooperation between New York City and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (0:07)

HAUPTMAN 6: Sarah Gillman is a supervising attorney with the Legal Aid Society.

GILLMAN 2: That particular law does not allow immigration agents to take people directly out of Rikers Island. (0:07)

HAUPTMAN 7: That’s important, because the longer they are detained, especially without representation, the greater the risk. The successful appeal rate for those facing deportation without representation is three percent. For that reason, and because of the increased number of ICE arrests in the past month, Pearce says…

PEARCE 4: In some ways sanctuary is misleading because while New York City does not cooperate with ICE, it still doesn’t prevent ICE from, for instance conducting a raid. (0:11)

HAUPTMAN 8: How the city will handle pressure from federal officials remains to be seen, and in the meantime…

PEARCE 5: It’s also important for people to just know their rights in certain situations. Have a plan in place. (0:05)

HAUPTMAN 9: A plan that can be include knowing who to call if a loved one is detained. Max Hauptman, Columbia Radio News

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