The attorneys of two New York City immigrants say the NYPD was in communication with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials about immigrants facing deportation who are due to appear in court.
David Gonzalez, 51, and Milton Chimborazo, 35, are represented by Queens Law Associates. Lori Zeno, the firm's co-founder, said the law firm discovered the NYPD spoke with ICE officials, reports the New York Daily News.
New York City is a sanctuary city, meaning law enforcement organizations only comply with ICE officials' deportation orders if the defendant is involved in violent or serious crimes. This particular communication between the NYPD and ICE officials may have violated this pledge, according to the Daily Mail.
Gonzalez, who has been previously deported, was arrested for allegedly rubbing against a woman on public transportation. The NYPD notified ICE about the arrest, and he was taken into ICE custody after a judge released him.
Chimborazo, who is facing charges of burglary and also facing deportation, was not taken into ICE custody, but officials were allegedly asking about him.
Zeno is calling on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt this practice.
"We're supposed to be a sanctuary city. What does it mean if our own court system is participating in turning folks in to ICE?" Zeno told the New York Daily News.
Austin Finan, a spokesman for the mayor, confirmed the practice, but insisted that it does not amount to collusion with ICE officials.
“NYPD notifies and confirms with all inquiring and arresting agencies the status of an arrestee who may be the subject of a warrant,” Finan told the newspaper. He added that the communication did not mean the department honors detainers.
NYPD top spokesman Stephen Davis said ICE officials can already access arrest information anyway, and that the cases were handled properly.
“Nothing was compromised in terms of the policies of the department," Davis said. "These guys didn’t suffer any consequence."
Still, advocates say de Blasio could do more to combat ICE officials.
“The mayor can issue a command to the Police Department that they shouldn’t be calling ICE,” Zeno said. “Cooperating with ICE is one thing ... But to me they seem to be in collusion with ICE.”
All local laws and policies pertaining to ICE were being reviewed by City Hall due to growing debate about the agency's impact in city courthouses.
“We recognize that the court is designed to be a neutral venue,” Finan said.