Mayor Eric Adams rebukes NYC’s sanctuary city status because it prevents him from deporting criminal illegal aliens
By Belle Carter // Mar 03, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to amend the Big Apple's sanctuary city status laws because it prevents him as a city government official from deporting illegal immigrants and asylum seekers who have committed violent crimes.

During a town hall event on Monday, Adams said there should be more options for lawmakers when it came to deporting illegal immigrants who commit crimes. The existing sanctuary system, which is based on local laws in numerous sanctuary cities, counties and states including New York City, prevents local officers from working with federal immigration officials for deportation processes.

In the system, the city protects illegal aliens from federal authorities who may seek to deport them. Adams believes that for most migrants who want to work in the cities, the process works and is beneficial. But the story becomes different for criminals and gangs that illegally crossed the borders and were bused to sanctuary cities. "The overwhelming number of migrants that are here, they want to work; I still don't understand why the federal government's not allowing them to work," Adams said. "They need to have the right to work like all of us that have come to this country could do so." Current law prevents asylum seekers from automatically gaining working papers. Illegal immigrants who have applied for asylum must wait before they are permitted to find work legally.

"But those small numbers that are committing crimes," he added, "we need to modify the sanctuary city law that if you commit a felony, a violent act, we should be able to turn you over to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE and have you deported. It is a right to live in this city, and you should not commit crimes in our city."

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Adams' reaction came on the heels of a series of high-profile violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants in the city. Several Venezuelan gang members have been charged with brutally beating New York Police Department (NYPD) officers in Times Square last month. A tourist was also shot this month in a clothing store robbery in the area. There have been concerns among law enforcement that the Venezuelan gangs may team up with the violent MS-13 gang. Just this week, cops responded to a stabbing at a Manhattan shelter.

"The mere fact that we cannot share with [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE that this person has committed three robberies and this person is part of an organized gang crew ... The mere fact we can't say that and communicate that is a problem for me," Adams said.

New York City became a sanctuary city in the 1980s under Democrat Mayor Ed Koch and has since taken in countless illegal immigrants. In 2020, former President Donald Trump's last year in office, there were fewer than 500,000 apprehensions of illegal immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, since President Joe Biden assumed office, the number has skyrocketed to over two million.

Since September, Adams has been warning that the influx of migrants will "destroy" the city and has led to an "unprecedented state of emergency." “We are past our breaking point. … For each family seeking asylum through the city's care, we spend an average of $383 per night to provide shelter, food, medical care, and social services. With more than 57,300 individuals currently in our care, on an average night, it amounts to $9.8 million a day, almost $300 million a month, and nearly $3.6 billion a year," he lamented back then. (Related: BREAKING POINT reached: NYC, other sanctuary cities "tired" of illegal immigrants influx, struggle with local resources.)

NYC council speaker opposes Adams' call for city's sanctuary laws amendment

NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams appears to be at odds with Mayor Adams' harsh rebuke of the city sanctuary laws. For the speaker, it is imperative to protect migrants who historically have felt threatened because of their status. "We are not considering laws, changes to laws," she said. "These laws have been in effect for decades." She also believes that collaborating with ICE isn't the answer.

"People are penned up in HERCS, and other places, in respite centers, whatever we want to call them," she said. "These places with different policies, with nothing to do... So for me, it's going to be the work status."

Meanwhile, City Councilman Joe Borelli said that they are going to introduce a bill, a total repeal of the 2011, 2014 and 2017 sanctuary city laws. "I don't anticipate much support from the other side, unfortunately. They should come back with their new version of the city's sanctuary city in noncompliance with ICE rules that allows the mayor to properly get people out of here who are committing violent and repeated crimes," he stated.

Moreover, Enforcement and Removal Operations New York City Field Office Director Kenneth Genalo released a statement on behalf of ICE, saying: "ERO New York City continues to uphold its mission to protect the citizens and residents of New York by removing those who pose a public safety threat to our community. We welcome the opportunity to work with Mayor Adams and New York City officials and look forward to forging a mutually beneficial path that benefits all New Yorkers." has more stories on Biden's immigration policies.

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