Actually, I was researching something else that is part of the same topic and came across this Congressional hearing from 2003. Congresswoman, Sheila Jackson Lee offered her opening statement to the hearing. Read it here. Take note, I did.
The Honorable John N. Hostettler, a Representative in Congress From the State of Indiana, and Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable Lamar Smith, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas
Mr. John Feinblatt, Criminal Justice Coordinator, City of New York
Mr. Michael J. Cutler, former Senior Special Agent, New York District Office, Immigration and Naturalization Service
Mr. John Nickell, Officer, Houston Police Department
Ms. Leslye E. Orloff, Immigrant Women Program, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund
LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING
Executive Order 124, City Policy Concerning Aliens, New York City
General Order, Houston Police Department
Immigration and Naturalization Service Memo
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a Representative in Congress From the State of Texas, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Claims
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative in Congress From the State of Michigan, and Ranking Member, Committee on the Judiciary
NEW YORK CITY’S ‘SANCTUARY’ POLICY AND THE EFFECT OF SUCH POLICIES ON PUBLIC SAFETY, LAW ENFORCEMENT, AND IMMIGRATION
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2003
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration,
Border Security, and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:07 a.m., in Room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John Hostettler [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. The Subcommittee will now come to order.
On December 19, 2002, a 42-year-old mother of two was abducted and forced by her assailants into a hideout near some railroad tracks in Queens, New York. She was brutally assaulted before being rescued by a New York Police Department canine unit.
The NYPD arrested five aliens in connection with that assault. According to records that the Judiciary Committee has received from the INS, four of those aliens entered the United States illegally. Three of those four had extensive arrest histories in New York City. The fifth alien, a lawful permanent resident, also had a criminal history prior to the December 19, 2002, attack.
Despite the criminal histories of the four aliens, however, it does not appear from the records that the Committee has received that the NYPD told the INS about these aliens until after the December 19 attack.
These heinous crimes prompted extensive public discussion of whether New York City police were barred from disclosing immigration information to the INS, a policy that may have prevented the removal of these aliens prior to the December 19 attack.
Some suggested that the only reason that the three illegal aliens were in the United States, despite their extensive arrest histories, was because the NYPD officers who arrested these aliens previously were barred by a so-called ”sanctuary” policy from contacting the INS. That policy, critics claimed, prevented NYPD officers from contacting the INS when they arrested an illegal alien.
We will examine New York City’s policy on the NYPD’s disclosure of immigration information to the INS. New York’s Executive Order, or E.O. 124, barred line officers from communicating directly with the INS about criminal aliens. That executive order was issued by Mayor Ed Koch in 1989 and reissued by Mayors Dinkins and Giuliani.
Two Federal provisions, both of which were passed in 1996, preempted this executive order. In particular, section 642 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act bars States and localities from prohibiting their officers from sending immigration information to the INS. New York City challenged that provision in Federal court and lost.
We will examine whether New York City continued E.O. 124, amended it, or scrapped it altogether. We will also examine what guidance the city has sent to its officers on the street about reporting criminal aliens to the INS.
At this hearing, the Subcommittee will also explore what effect any New York City sanctuary policy had on the fact that the three illegal aliens with arrest histories had not been deported. We will also examine the INS’s responsiveness to the information that it receives from New York City about arrested criminal aliens if, in fact, the INS does receive such information. In addition, we will examine similar policies that other localities have implemented.
In particular, Officer John Nickell of the Houston Police Department will discuss that department’s policy concerning officer contacts with the INS about criminal aliens. That policy bars Houston officers from contacting the INS about suspected illegal aliens, unless the suspected illegal alien is arrested on a separate criminal charge other than a class of misdemeanors ”and the officer knows the prisoner is an illegal alien.”
Significantly, despite this knowledge, requirement for contacting the INS, Houston officers are barred from asking arrested criminal suspects their citizenship status.
The Subcommittee will assess the effect that such policies have had on law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and public safety as well as their consistency with Federal law.
Joining us today are four witnesses. First of all, John Feinblatt is the criminal justice coordinator for the City of New York. He received his law degree from Columbus School of Law at Catholic University, and his bachelor of arts degree from Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He has served as a criminal defense attorney in New York, executive director of victim services, and director of the Midtown Community Court and the Center for Court Innovation.
Michael Cutler is a retired senior special agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, New York District Office. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Brooklyn College and the City University of New York in 1971 before joining the INS that same year as an immigration inspector at JFK airport. He also served as a green card adjudicator before becoming an INS criminal investigator, working with the Israeli national police and the FBI.
He was the INS representative to the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA in New York. Finally, in 1991, Mr. Cutler was assigned to the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. Mr. Cutler last testified before this Subcommittee as a witness for the minority in March 2002.
John Nickell is an officer with the Houston Police Department. Officer Nickell has served with the Houston Police Department for 11 years, specializing in DWI detection and drug recognition enforcement. He served 6 years in the United States Marine Corps and is a Desert Storm veteran.
Ms. Leslye Orloff is the director of the Immigrant Women Program for the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund. She received her law degree from UCLA, and her bachelor of arts degree is from Brandeis University. She has previously worked as the director of the Latino Project at the George Washington University National Law Center, the director of the Clinica Legal Latina, and director of Ayuda’s national policy program. She has also written and testified extensively.
Before I go to the witnesses, I would like to now turn to the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Ms. Jackson Lee, for any opening remarks she may have.
Ms. JACKSON LEE. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
As we begin the 108th Congress with the very first hearing for our Subcommittee, I want to express to you my belief that we’ll have an opportunity to work together and work together on issues and commonality for the good of this Nation. And as well, hopefully, to reflect the values that we both have, though they may be distinctive, that we do have the responsibility to govern and oversee the very effective policies of immigration laws here in the United States, many of which are reminding us that we are a Nation of immigrants as we are a Nation of laws.
And so I look forward to the challenges that we will have, and I hope that as we proceed, even in our different perspectives, we’ll have an opportunity to be able to serve this Country and present very effective resolutions to some problems that we will face.
This morning, obviously, we are pursuing an issue that needs addressing. And certainly, we are told of accounts, many accounts, that deal with immigrant issues and the criminal system.
In particular, we are aware of an incident that occurred in New York—Queens, New York, in particular—that an alleged group of young and homeless men surrounded a couple sitting on a bench in an isolated part of Queens, New York. And the allegations of a criminal incident that occurred where they beat and robbed the man and raped the woman.
Apparently, it was alleged that four of the men were undocumented aliens from Mexico who had been arrested previously.
One of the questions for this hearing, as was stated, is whether a New York City policy prevented the police involved in the previous arrest from reporting the men to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The policy in question is set forth in Executive Order No. 124, which was issued by New York Mayor Ed Koch on August 7, 1989. It is entitled, ”City Policy Concerning Aliens.”
[The New York Executive Order follows:]
This order prohibits the transmission of information about an alien to the Immigration Service. But the prohibition has three exceptions, one of which is for the situation in which the alien is suspected of engaging in criminal activity. And I repeat that again. There is an exception. The police did have discretion.
This order, therefore, did not prevent the police from reporting the homeless men to the Immigration Service when they were arrested previously. The pertinent issue regarding that case is whether New York Police Department should have been required by Federal law to report the homeless men to the Immigration Service.
I believe it is imperative to assess the challenges that local police have. They have enormous challenges. And so the question is whether or not you add to them the responsibility of enforcing immigration law.
But when we ask that question, we have to look to the issue of whether or not, by definition, immigration equates to either terrorism or criminal activity.
I think the statistics would prove that that is not the case, so discretion is appropriate. That means that when there is suggestion of criminal activity, when there is any activity—whether it be misdemeanor level or otherwise—and they are engaged in a criminal activity, discretion does come about.
We have to realize that our immigrants do many things. They work for us. They live in our communities. They provide police officers with insight and information about criminal activity going on in their particular communities. They speak, sometimes, two languages. If they’ve learned the English language, which they will and eventually do, and therefore are able to provide information because they are bilingual or maybe even multilingual.
Immigration law is a complicated body of law that requires extensive training and expertise. It is also not a body of only criminal law or criminal law at all. It is a civilian body of law. It is a law that deals with immigrants accessing the process of citizenship.
Local law enforcement officials do not have the training and expertise that is necessary to determine who is presently lawfully in the country and who is not.
Community-based policing is one of the most powerful law enforcement tools available. I know for a fact that it is utilized in New York. I know for a fact it is utilized in Houston. It is effective.
Police get to understand and know the community, and people, by their very nature of wanting to be law-abiding—no matter who they are, immigrant or citizen—come to respect and admire the police and provide them with information to help them solve cases and problems.
By developing strong ties with local communities, police departments are able to obtain valuable information that helps them to fight a crime, even in a bilingual immigrant community or a single-language immigrant community. The development of community-based policing has been widely recognized as an effective tool for keeping kids off drugs, combating gang violence, and reducing crime rates in neighborhoods around the country.
In immigrant communities, it is particularly difficult for the police to establish the relationships that are the foundations for such successful police work. Many immigrants come from countries in which people are afraid of police who may be corrupt or even violent, and the prospect of being reported to the Immigration Service would be further reason for distrusting the police here in the United States of America.
In some cities, criminals have exploited the fear that immigrant communities have of all law enforcement officials, and certainly that should not be the case. For instance, in Durham, North Carolina, thieves told their victims in a community of migrant workers and new immigrants that if they called the police they would be deported, and they may be—may have been under legitimate agricultural visas and provisions to be in this Country.
Local police officers have found that people are being robbed multiple times and are not reporting the crimes because of such fear instilled by robbers. These immigrants are left vulnerable to crimes of all sorts, not just robbery.
In 1998, Elena Gonzalez, an immigrant in New Jersey, was found murdered in the basement of her apartment. Friends of the woman said that the suspected murderer, her former boyfriend, threatened to report her to the INS if she did not do what she was told.
We realize that there are sex slaves. There are young women who are brought into this country and held for months and years at a time, because I know that they are fearful of the police as well.
Many communities find it difficult financially to support a police force with the personnel and equipment necessary to perform regular police work. Requiring State and local police forces to report to the Immigration Service would be, I believe, an imbalanced, misdirected use of these limited resources.
Remember, it is important to note that the police have discretion, that as they encourage and become familiar and involved with the immigrant community, as the police forces are diversified with Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, individuals from the Muslim community, Arab community—those are individuals who are men and women who believe in upholding the law.
Let them become familiar with these neighborhoods, and I can assure you that crime will come down and problems will be solved.
The Immigration Service has limited resources, yes. But as we look toward this new year—the Homeland Security Department, the Justice Department—we know that we’ll be refining these resources and adding training to these particular law enforcement agencies as we give more dollars to the first responders.
Let us be reminded of the terrible, horrific act of the snipers here in this region and the information that was important that was given to solve those problems by immigrants who were first allegedly targeted as the perpetrators, and it was not the case.
The immigrant service does not have the resources it needs to deport dangerous criminals, prevent persons from unlawfully entering or remaining in the United States, and we must give them those resources. And we need to have the INS with the resources that it needs to enforce immigration laws in the interior of the country.
That is what we will be working on. That is an important responsibility, and that is a responsibility that I support.
Having to respond to every State and local police officer’s report of someone who appears to be an illegal alien would prevent the Immigration Service from properly prioritizing its efforts and working to ensure that its major work of getting those dangerously in our Country deported would be delayed.
Local police can and should report immigrants to the immigration service in many situations. I encourage them to do so. With that kind of process and policy, we can work collectively together, keeping our responsibilities as a Federal Government and keeping our responsibilities to our local constituents in the work that the local official should be doing. The decision to contact Immigration Service, however, should be a matter of police discretion and not a Federal law decision.
I would simply say, Mr. Chairman, that this will be an important hearing.
I welcome Mr. Nickell to this particular hearing, and he certainly is a very able representative of the Houston Police Department, of which I count many of them as my friends.
And I want to acknowledge publicly the greatest respect I have for the great work that you do.
And I know that as I listen to you, I will be attentive and certainly know that the police department in my community has been able to work within the laws of this land, with the Federal laws as they are, and your laws using your discretion, your expertise, and of course, your commitment to the community as the basis of serving us.
Thank you very much for your service.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Thank you, Ms. Jackson Lee.