Help Detained Immigrants Afford Bond Payments

Help Detained Immigrants Afford Bond Payments
Photo credit Susan Watts/ Comptroller’s Office!!

(New York, NY) — New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer today joined immigrant families and advocates to demand greater protections for the families suffering from the draconian rise in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activity in the City under the Trump Administration – an increase that is more profound in New York than virtually all other major cities in the US. Today’s gathering came as details of increased enforcement are laid out in Comptroller Stringer’s new report, The Demographics of Detention, which charts the stark escalation in arrests, deportations, and immigration court proceedings in NYC during the first two years of the Trump Administration (FY 2017-FY 2018), as compared to the last year of the Obama Administration, with breakdowns both by borough and nationality. The report shows that Chinese immigrants now account for 1-out-of-5 of all immigration court proceedings in NYC – double the number of any other nationality – while nearly half of all immigration court proceedings originate from Queens. In response, Stringer called on the City to expand access to legal services to achieve universal representation for immigrants and increase support for the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund, while urging passage of State legislation to bar ICE enforcement in and around New York courthouses.

“Let’s be clear: undocumented New Yorkers are part of the fabric of our city. But even in a sanctuary city like New York, the escalation of ICE raids, arrests, and intimidation is terrorizing the everyday life of our neighbors and forcing undocumented New Yorkers into the shadows,” said Comptroller Stringer. “These statistics are harrowing and they’re a call to action, because these just aren’t numbers – they’re sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, partners, neighbors, and friends. That’s why I’m calling for the City to protect these New Yorkers and eliminate the carve-out that limits access to immigrant legal services because if we believe in due process for all people, we can’t be in the business of choosing who deserves a truly fair day in court. The State must also do more to ban ICE from courthouses outright – and the City should continue to support immigrant bond services.”

Comptroller Stringer further released a video telling the stories of undocumented New Yorkers facing the escalation of ICE enforcement.

Comptroller Stringer’s report found:

 

  • Deportations by ICE officers in New York City increased by 150 percent between the final year of the Obama Administration (FY 2016) and the first full fiscal year of the Trump Administration (FY 2018), jumping from 1,037 to 2,593.
     
  • Deportations of individuals with no criminal convictions rose even more in that time, going from 313 to 1,144, or a 265.5 percent rise—the largest increase of any ICE field office in the country.

Increase in Non-Criminal Deportations by ICE Field Office:
FY 2016-FY 2018

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  • Administrative arrests (an arrest made for a civil violation of immigration law) by ICE officers in New York City rose by 88.2 percent, going from 1,847 arrests in FY 2016 to 3,476 in FY 2018, the third-highest increase of all ICE field offices. This sudden increase reversed a precipitous decline during the last few years of the Obama Administration.

Increase in Arrests by ICE Field Office: FY 2016-FY 2018

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  • ICE detainer requests (a request made by ICE to local law enforcement agencies to hold an immigrant in custody longer than they would otherwise so that ICE can gain custody of the immigrant) sent to entities located in New York City have risen more than six-fold during the Trump Administration. Specifically, detainer requests have increased to an average of 312 per month, reaching a high of 522 requests in April 2018, after averaging about 50 per month during the final year of the Obama Administration.
     
  • Immigration court records indicate that the number of new deportation cases involving an immigrant living in New York City grew to an all-time high in FY 2018 of over 19,750 cases—over 30 percent higher than in FY 2016.
     
  • Chinese immigrants make up the largest nationality of New York City immigrants undergoing immigration court proceedings, with over 10,000 immigration cases (21 percent of cases) opened/started since FY 2016. Immigrants from India comprise roughly 10 percent of all cases, followed by immigrants from Guatemala and Ecuador at roughly 7 percent each.
     
  • Some detained immigrants may have the ability to obtain release by posting a bond to immigration court – but immigration bonds are more costly than bail set in criminal court. Between FY 2014 and FY 2017, the median bond amount set by immigration judges in New York City was $7,500, which is 50 percent higher than median bail set in felony cases in criminal court in the city. During the first half of FY 2018, the latest data available, bond amounts ranged from $1,500 to $100,000, remaining prohibitive for many immigrants who are detained.

Based on these findings, the report makes a number of recommendations for state and local policymakers in order to better support immigrant New Yorkers and strengthen our city.These recommendations include:

  • The City should work toward providing truly universal representation for individuals in immigration proceedings by expanding existing funding for legal services and removing the criminal carve-out that restricts certain immigrants’ access to City-funded services.
     
  • The City should continue to support the operation of the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund to help pay bond for those detained during immigration proceedings.
     
  • The State should act to restrict immigration enforcement operations in and near New York courthouses by enacting the Protect Our Courts Act, introduced by New York State Senator Brad Hoylman and New York State Assemblymember Michaelle Solages.

As the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigrants continues, New York City and State will need to closely monitor any new federal policies and respond appropriately. As an initial matter, however, these three actions will help provide support to New York City immigrants at risk of being swept up in the Trump Administration’s expanded immigration enforcement activities.

“ICE has strayed too far from its original mission and has been allowed to function with little to no oversight during the Trump administration as the agency carries out the President’s continuous attacks on immigrant communities,” said Congressman Adriano Espaillat. “It remains critical that we continue our efforts to ensure protections and immigrant rights, especially for individuals and families seeking asylum here in America.”

“I commend Comptroller Scott Stringer for documenting the skyrocketing arrests, deportations and immigration court proceedings instigated by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in his new report. This is an untenable situation that is causing widespread fear and mistrust of our court system among immigrant communities. It's time that New York law made clear: courthouses are sanctuaries, and ICE is not welcome. I'm proud to be the lead Senate sponsor of the Protect Our Courts Act (S425/A2176) with Assemblymember Michaelle Solages that would address this growing problem by prohibiting ICE agents from making civil arrests in and around New York State courthouses without a judicial warrant or court order,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman

“I thank the Comptroller for his attention to this vital issue and to the shocking statistics this report has uncovered. New York City is not yet a sanctuary city and we have a long way to go until our undocumented community members truly feel safe in our city. I will be working in the state legislature to combat the overreach of ICE and protect New York families,” saidState Senator Julia Salazar

“The City administration made a promise that they would defend the residents of New York regardless of their immigration status and where they come from. Yet, the Comptroller's report shows the chilling truth that our immigrant community is still experiencing attack after attack. We must ensure that families are not torn apart and offer real protections for non-citizens and immigrants. As such vital community members, they deserve no less. Thank you to Comptroller Scott Stringer, other elected officials, and the advocates who are standing up against the senseless immigration policies present in this age. I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect all New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou.

“I stand with Comptroller Stringer in demanding greater protections for families targeted by ICE under the cruel policies of the Trump Administration. This reprehensible and unjust conduct, especially toward the East Asian, Latino, and African communities, cannot be tolerated in New York City.  We must institute safeguards to protect our immigrants friends, neighbors, and constituents against the unconstitutional and dishonorable tactics of the federal government,” said Assemblymember Catalina Cruz.

Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus said, “I support the transparency that the Comptroller's office offers New Yorkers especially around the issue of immigration.”

Assemblymember Charles D. Fall said, “I'm a child of immigrants. That is the history of our country. Immigration helped to build and has sustained our country.  The immigration issue, I recognize is complex and one that generates a lot of passion, but it is challenging to justify tearing families a part and forcing some of our most talented out.”

“The Trump Administration has weaponized hate, wrecking people’s lives to score cheap political points with those who are vulnerable to his bigoted fear-mongering. New Yorkers get a bad rap for being too hard, but we are family, and if you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us, regardless of status. My grandparents fled Nazi Germany to New York because this city is and always will be a refuge for all kinds of people from all kinds of places. And I will fight to protect every single New Yorker to preserve the vision of New York that my grandparents helped to build,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.

“With ICE courthouse arrests skyrocketing across the state, we need our New York leaders to take a bold stand against Trump by preserving the sanctity of our courts and reducing barriers to legal assistance. An inclusive and accessible justice system is a cornerstone of a healthy democracy, and by increasing funding for legal services, supporting the New York Immigration Freedom Fund, and passing the Protect Our Courts Act, New York City will guarantee that all residents, regardless of immigration status, are guaranteed their legal rights. The Comptroller’s leadership paves the way for New York to ensure universal access to legal representation and to live up to our country’s highest ideals,” said Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

“As ICE continues to terrorize immigrant New Yorkers, it is more important than ever that New York take a stand for due process and safeguard the rights of all. We commend the Comptroller for this report, which underscores the need to support and grow city initiatives to ensure immigrants have access to legal representation and funds for bond, and that we take every step possible to keep ICE out of our courts,” said Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York.

“The Comptroller’s report on immigration enforcement clearly demonstrates the increasing need of immigrant legal services aimed at addressing the specific needs of Asian immigrants. We deeply appreciate the leadership of the Comptroller and his staff on this issue. We hope that together we can work to increase the services available to the pan-Asian immigrant community and other hidden and underserved immigrant communities and push back against aggressive, anti-immigrant policies,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation.
 
“The New York Immigrant Freedom Fund (“NYIFF”) - an initiative of the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund in partnership with community-based organizations and legal service providers - pays immigration bond for community members who are unable to afford it themselves, thus affirming people’s dignity and agency, shortening the duration of their time in detention, and stopping the cycle of abusive imprisonment. Committed to the principle that no one should be imprisoned because of their immigration status, in its first year alone NYIFF will secure the release of 200 New Yorkers and reunite them with their families and communities. We are grateful for the Comptroller's report and his commitment to building a humane and just immigration system in New York,” said Peter Goldberg, Executive Director, Brooklyn Community Bail Fund.
 
“This report brings needed attention to how federal immigration enforcement has scaled up in recent years in New York. The MinKwon Center fully supports having greater legal representation for immigrants, more resources including bonds, and limiting the unconscionable act of arresting immigrants in and around courthouses that further erodes the trust and relationships our communities have with law enforcement,” said John Park, Executive Director of the MinKwon Center.

“We have seen first-hand how the escalating enforcement tactics of ICE have created a climate of fear among African immigrants in New York, including many with legal status, and denied many immigrants their basic rights to due process and a day in court. We join the Comptroller in condemning tactics like detaining immigrants at New York State Courts where they are seeking justice. ACT strongly supports the Comptroller's recommendation to protect due process by working toward universal representation in immigration court. We welcome increased funding for the New York Immigrant Freedom Fund, which gets immigrants out of detention without forcing them to rely on predatory, for-profit immigration bond companies. And we join the call to New York City to end its "criminal carve-out" policy, which denies equal access to representation based on past criminal convictions. New York City calls itself a sanctuary city- let's make that promise real for immigrant New Yorkers,” said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together.

“In early 2017, NYC announced it was a sanctuary city, and a promise was made to protect all of our immigrants regardless of where they come from and regardless of their immigration status,” said Afaf Nasher, Executive Director of Council American Islamic Relations-NY. “As Comptroller Stringer's report demonstrates, this promise seems to have been forgotten. If we truly view our diversity as a source of economic and moral strength, then we must do better to protect our immigrant population.”

“The Trump administration has waged an all-out attack on immigrants and targeted many of New York's most vulnerable residents, including refugee children. New York has always been a city of immigrants and the City should continue to protect all of its residents. As Comptroller Stringer’s report demonstrates, one increasingly important way to do this is to work toward ensuring universal representation for individuals in immigration court by expanding funding for legal services,” said Gui Stampur, Deputy Executive Director and Co-Founder of Safe Passage Project.

Rama Issa, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York said, “The Arab American Association of New York serves a low-income, Arab immigrant and Arab American community, a community whose members have suffered through three iterations of a Muslim Ban, fought through countless changes to their Temporary Protected Status, and had to consider putting their legal status in jeopardy in order to provide food and shelter for their families. The Comptroller’s report showcases the need for more legal representation of vulnerable communities like ours. It makes clear that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been rampant in NYC, with increased arrests, increased presence in our courts, and increased deportation proceedings. Now more than ever, we need to increase funding for legal representation, especially for community-based organization serving immigrant communities across NYC.”

“ICE is a rogue agency that targets vulnerable communities for raids and deportation ignoring New York City's support for its immigrant population. The city recognizes that it would not function without its immigrant residents. People of faith stand with immigrants as they fight to stay here with their loved ones,” said Ravi Ragbir, Executive Director of the New Sanctuary Coalition.

“This report is most timely and important right now -- as the federal administration ramps up its attacks on immigrant communities, including Nepali TPS holders and Nepali-speaking refugees and asylees, New York City has an integral role to play in being a model for the rest of the country. This report shows that the city has much more to work on to make sure that we are adequately supporting and protecting our communities, as well as allowing them to flourish. We need to address how to make sure that our communities are not living in fear because of increased legal costs, misinformation, lawyer fraud, and a myriad of different issues. We hope this report brings to light the gaping need for swift and powerful action by the city to protect our immigrant communities now,” said Maya Gurung, Case Coordinator, Adhikaar.

“As an immigrant city and a sanctuary city, New York has to stand up to the racism and xenophobia from Washington. But Comptroller Stringer’s report is showing that our city is falling behind. The undocumented New Yorkers, families with mixed status, and communities with temporary protective status that we serve deserve more from New York. We commend Comptroller Stringer for putting proposals on the table to do just that,” said Mohammed Mardah, Chairman, African Advisory Council.

“We must remember we are a city and nation of immigrants. United as one we are strong. Divided we are weak. And that’s what ICE is trying to do. I want to thank Comptroller Stringer for spotlighting this important issue and for bringing a coalition together to protect our city,” said Mazeda A. Uddin, founder of the South Asian Fund For Education, Scholarship and Training (SAFEST).

“New York is coming together to condemn the actions of ICE and to stand up for immigrants and human rights. Comptroller Stringer’s report is putting the magnifying glass on ICE in New York City – and showing just how much more we need to do to protect immigrant communities, families, and people of all faiths from the horrifying actions of ICE,” said Imam Souleimane Konate, Masjid Al-Aqsa.

“As Immigration and Customs Enforcement continues its indiscriminate attacks on the due process of fellow New Yorkers--32BJ member Baba Silla father of five US Citizen Children the latest neighbor to be detained--we must take extra steps to ensure legal representation for those threaten with deportation. Likewise, we trust that the Comptroller and other NYC elected officials will make sure ICE stays out of our state courthouses--sensitive places that, like schools, hospitals, and houses of worship, depend on community trust to function properly. These measures are needed to defend a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’ currently under threat,” said Rev. Dr. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, The Interfaith Center of New York.