U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is prepared to go to court with two “sanctuary cities,” New York City, New York, and Denver, Colorado, if they fail to provide personal information on illegal immigrants with criminal records released in each city instead of being transferred to ICE.
“We expect them to comply” with subpoenas for the information, said acting ICE Director Matt Albence at a press conference in Washington on Thursday. “If they don’t comply, we’ll be working with DOJ to go to district court to force them to comply with the requirements,” Albence said, noting the rule in the U.S. Code that he said justified the move. “The individuals that fail to comply can be held in contempt,” he said. “They can show up to court with a toothbrush because they might not be going home that night. Because they could be jailed for failure to comply with a lawful order from a judge. That’s the route we’re going.”
ICE looks at local arrests to see if a person is illegally in the country. If they appear to be an illegal immigrant, the officer can request that the local law enforcement agency notify ICE before they are released so that ICE can take custody and begin deportation proceedings. Sanctuary zones release illegal immigrants, including those with criminal convictions, after they make bail or serve time in jail without notifying ICE.
Albence said the subpoenas were a “last resort” to force “sanctuary cities” to help federal officers find people at their homes and jobs if local jails will not turn them over while in secure settings. ICE focuses most of its effort going after people illegally in the country charged or convicted of criminal offenses.
“Hopefully, when some of these other jurisdictions that don’t want to cooperate see that we’re taking this seriously, maybe they’ll come around and try to help us help their own communities,” said Albence, who was tapped to lead the 20,000-person agency six months ago. He did not answer if Denver or New York would face retaliation from the federal government if they do not honor the subpoenas.
Last year, ICE asked New York City to notify it before releasing 7,500 illegal immigrants so that it could transfer each person into custody. None of the requests were honored.
The subpoenas ask for the phone number, home address, type of vehicle, employer, and more information that can help ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations officers go into the person’s community and try to arrest them. Albence said that sanctuary cities force ICE to squander resources running around trying to find people and that localities are forced to waste manpower rearresting criminals who could have been deported.
“How much time could NYPD could have dedicated to doing other functions instead of continually arresting people that are here illegally, have no lawful right to be here, and are committing further crimes?” he asked. “Our goal is to find them before they commit further crimes, right? We’re actually able to prevent crimes if we can get these people off the street.”
Author: Anna Giaritelli