NOI 41: Some Comments on New York as an Immigration Sanctuary City

Today, immigration lawyer Jacob Tingen comments on the controversy surrounding New York, its sanctuary policies relating to immigration, and the unfortunate manner that the death and murder of a 92-year-old woman is being politicized to advance immigration arguments.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. All right, take two. I think we had some technical difficulties there. So welcome back. This is episode 41 of Nation of Immigrants. Today we’re going to talk about sanctuary cities. This is actually a topic that we’ve looked at more in depth in a previous episode, that’s episode 23.

Jacob Tingen: And in that episode I very specifically define what makes a city a sanctuary city, and it’s worth taking a listen to if you’re not familiar with the topic or what the real issue there is. Today though, I’m going to focus more specifically on this controversy that’s happening about in New York in the aftermath of the death and murder of this poor woman in New York.

Jacob Tingen: So. I’m going to try to treat that topic with respect, but also talk about the immigration issues that are, different arguments that are being advanced people… Of course, never a tragedy too tragic to score political points, unfortunately. So yeah, we’re going to comment on what’s going on and how the immigration laws and policy actually have to deal with things here. And I’m not going to get into whose at fault or what policies or whatever caused this woman’s murder.

Jacob Tingen: We’ll get into this in a bit, but some of the things that people are saying are little heavy handed, I think we can all agree that it’s a tragedy anytime that there’s a death or a murder. So let’s jump in after the intro.

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Announcer: A podcast about US immigration law, with your host Jacob Tingen.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. So as I mentioned, we would be talking about this controversial issue that’s happening in New York right now. Just basically there was a 92 year old woman that was murdered allegedly by an immigrant. I don’t know if it’s been proven yet or not, but so yeah, this woman was killed in Queens. And the controversy here is that ICE has decided to take this moment to say things like, “A phone call, one simple phone call, presumably from the New York police and Ms Fuertes would be alive today.”

Jacob Tingen: And the idea there is, is that if New York didn’t have the sanctuary policy in place, then we could have taken custody here and then he wouldn’t have been on the streets and we wouldn’t have had this problem and this woman would be alive today. I think that that’s what people are trying to say here.

Jacob Tingen: But you know, we’ll touch on that here in a bit. So, a brief refresher on sanctuary city policies and what makes a city a sanctuary city. So first of all the definition, people can vary on the definition, but when it comes down to what actually is a sanctuary city, a sanctuary city is a city with a policy of refusing to enforce an ICE detainer request.

Jacob Tingen: Okay. That is the actual legal definition as I see it, of what a sanctuary city is. Now. Some cities go further, they have policies of not cooperating with ICE at all. And then some people might say, “Well, why wouldn’t an agency cooperate with another government agency? Aren’t we all on the same side?Shouldn’t law enforcement agencies work together?”

Jacob Tingen: And I get that. However, when you dig into the weeds, and this is why if you’re interested in this topic, you should listen further and episode 23 where I defined sanctuary cities. But basically the gist is the reason that local law enforcement doesn’t want to help ICE in some of these scenarios is because the request to continue to hold on to immigrants for an additional period of time beyond when they would normally be released. That’s what the ICE detainer does, that that request is unconstitutional.

Jacob Tingen: These warrants aren’t signed by judges, cities have been sued, cities had been found liable. And so, I don’t know, what would you rather do? Work with a federal agency who is asking you to violate somebody’s rights or would you, and pay out presumably lots of money and taxpayer dollars or would you rather abide by the constitution and the law of the land? Right?

Jacob Tingen: So, that’s the real issue here. And again, for people who are curious about that dive in episode 23 where I talk about it at length. And we’re going to be talking about sanctuary cities quite a bit in the near future here on this podcast and in Richmond, Virginia and this area. And we’ll be taking a closer look at sanctuary policies and those kinds of issues.

Jacob Tingen: So, jumping back into this New York case, “One phone call, one simple phone call and Ms Fuertes would be alive today,” the ICE heads said, referring to this murder is kind of a mischaracterization of what happens. So when a law enforcement agency receives an ICE detainer requests from ICE, there’s a lot that they could do, which means they could hold onto the amount or they could just let them go. But how does ICE even learn that the person was detained in the first place? Presumably because the law enforcement agency told ICE. Like, “Hey, we’ve arrested this person. We believe they might be an immigrant.”

Jacob Tingen: And so, that’s practically what happens. So in this case it looks like ICE did issue a detainer for this individual who allegedly committed this murder. And so, that means that New York probably did make a phone call or probably did reach out in some way to let them know, “Hey, we’ve got this person.”

Jacob Tingen: But then in response to an ICE detainer requests, New York has a policy of not abiding by an ICE detainer requests because the people who’ve looked at it for constitutional or other policy reasons have decided they’re not going to abide by these requests, that they’re non mandatory, has said, “You know what, we’re not going to hold on to somebody an extra 48 hours and violate their constitutional rights.”

Jacob Tingen: But at the same time, I don’t see how that forecloses ICE from coming to pick up these people as they’re released. So, that’s the thing that seems to me very insincere about all of this is that ICE could very well just work better or more efficiently. And you know, there’s this whole issue right now of how the Trump administration has all this no holds barred. We’re going to push for everything kind of approach to immigration enforcement that’s just not very savvy, right?

Jacob Tingen: When everybody’s a priority, nobody is. And so, the administration could very well prioritize certain immigrants over others, but current policies don’t allow them to. So yeah, maybe ICE doesn’t have the ability or capability to actually follow up on these people without the extra 48 unconstitutional hours that they’re asking jurisdictions to hold them for. And so, I get that they’re in a bind, but that’s not the local jurisdiction’s fault.

Jacob Tingen: So, basically we need to revisit policies but not the local policies, perhaps ISIS policies. So again, for ICE to say and throw all the blame on New York and say, “Stupid sanctuary cities, what are you doing?” That’s not really appropriate. The article that I’m reading is titled “Citing murder top Trump official condemns New York sanctuary policy”. It’s on the New York Times. And it goes into some interesting details about people who are related to this woman and those kinds of things.

Jacob Tingen: Basically there’s a response from the mayor that says, “Fear, hate and attempts to define our signatures in the Trump administration, not in New York city. We are the safest big city in America because of our policies, not in spite of them.” There’s another interesting aspect that I read, I can’t remember if it was this article or different article, but many of the safest cities throughout the country have high immigrant populations. And we’ve talked about this fact before on this podcast, but immigrants do commit crime at a much lower rate than the average population.

Jacob Tingen: So, there are these glaring issues all over this case where, again, to say that New York sanctuary policies directly led to the death of this woman just aren’t accurate. Now, of course nobody likes to say… I’m not advocating for murder or that we allow immigrants who stay here who aren’t willing to abide by our criminal laws. Of course, there should be consequences for actions that people take. But at the same time in our political discourse and in the decisions that we make, we should be intellectually honest with one another or else how can we make good policy decisions?

Jacob Tingen: So what’s interesting is I believe in this article, the family of this woman, yeah, Mr. Fuertes criticize the city’s handling Mr. Khan’s assault case. I believe that’s understandable for him to feel that way. He also denounced recent federal immigration policies resulting in more deportations and child separation saying, “They do not do what they should be doing.”

Jacob Tingen: I would agree with that assessment, that in our immigration problems that we have here in the country is that our priorities have shifted to the point that we’re not doing the things that we should do, the things that would bring us better results. And I think that that’s kind of being demonstrated in cases like this, where again, we’re focusing on priorities of just deporting everybody and separating families and those kinds of things that we don’t have enough resources left to keep people safe.

Jacob Tingen: And that is what I think is the real problem here. It’s not necessarily New York’s issues with being a sanctuary city. I mean, lots of jurisdictions, like I said, won’t honor an ICE detainer because it opens them up to legal liability because, spoiler alert, they’re unconstitutional yet again. And then there’s another issue that there was a case that came out over the last summer that pointed out that the databases that ICE uses to issue detainers is so corrupted, doesn’t have up-to-date information, isn’t accurate. That one judge said that you can’t even rely on that data anyway and I think issued an injunction to prevent ICE from issuing further detainers in certain circumstances.

Jacob Tingen: So yeah, I mean that’s a whole other can of worms, but it’s a relevant issue here is that… And of course, I understand in this particular situation, the immigrant who they’re targeting here in this article who did apparently commit these crimes, he’s an immigrant and he’s here unlawfully. But when you’re looking at just this blanket policy of jurisdictions should always honor all ICE requests. When we see that happen, we see that families get hurt, immigrants get hurt, communities get hurt. And that’s what needs to stop.

Jacob Tingen: So, it’s an interesting article. It’s more nuanced. The issue is more nuanced than the sound bite gives the impression of. Right? So the sound bite is if they just made a phone call, she’d be alive today. Not exactly ICE, and it’s unfair for you to say that.

Jacob Tingen: So that is what I wanted to say today and I think that… Oh, we’re getting comments. That’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen. So, thanks for the comment. I’ll take a look at it later. But if you do need legal counsel on an immigration issue, you should just call the office. That’s probably the fastest way to get help. So, that number is (804) 477-1720.

Jacob Tingen: I always appreciate everybody who’s watching and listening. So hopefully if you do need legal assistance, I wouldn’t make public comments on YouTube or Facebook or anywhere else, but just reach out to us directly because you know, you want to keep your private info private and confidential.

Jacob Tingen: So anyway, thanks again for listening. I’m always grateful for everybody who follows along and everybody who’s listening. And hopefully we can continue to talk about these different immigration issues as they come up. And I hope that frankly, as a community and as a people, we can heal from some of these difficulties that we’ve been going through over the last year and find more compromise and better solutions moving forward.

Jacob Tingen: So, thanks for listening, Nation of Immigrants. Don’t forget to support the podcast. Follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and we’ll see you next time.

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