New York City will, this week, join a growing list of US cities who are challenging US immigration policy.
A forthcoming New York City bill if brought into law would mean that New York would no longer be required to hand over inmates who are illegal immigrants to the federal authorities, unless a warrant was issued by a federal judge.
Even if a warrant has been issued, the New York Police Department would only be obliged to hand over immigrants who had previously been convicted of a violent or serious crime, or those who were suspected of terrorism.
The bill is yet to be introduced, but already has the support of Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio, meaning that it is practically guaranteed to pass. New York City Council is dominated by the Democrat Party. It is likely that Democratic councillors would vote to support the Mayor, which means that the bill is unlikely to face much opposition.
Other cities have already passed similar legislation, including Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Newark, who in many cases no longer pass on immigration detainees to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
New York City Council Speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito said that the bill was important in reducing the city's role in a corrupt immigration system that deports immigrants just because of minor felonies. She said 'We're sending a very strong message.'
The Mayor supported Ms Mark-Viverito's statement, describing the bill as 'taking a stand to protect individual rights while respecting the need for public safety.'
However, ICE have warned that releasing criminals instead of passing them over into federal custody was a risk to the general public.
ICE spokesman Luis Martinez has criticised the plans, saying that the federal authority will no longer be able to effectively carry out its main goal, which is 'to ensure that dangerous criminals are not released from prisons or jails and into our communities.'
He added, 'ICE will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement partners throughout New York as the agency seeks to enforce its priorities through the identification and removal of convicted criminals and other public safety threats,'
The bill has also come under criticism from Staten Island Republican, Michael Grimm, who warns that it gives 'incentives for illegals to flock to our city when we don't even have adequate housing and resources for our own citizens.'
The new legislation would effectively end a decade's worth of New York City and ICE's close cooperation on the issue of immigration. In the past six years, ICE have reportedly that over 900,000 people were handed over to federal custody, although it is unclear exactly how many of these were actually deported.