Skip to content

Make this city a sanctuary for law-abiding New Yorkers

Our city is teetering on a precipice. It will either fall into the abyss of lawlessness or rise to return to common-sense policies that kept New York safe for decades. We need to use every tool available to remove violent criminals from our streets, no matter their country of origin. That has to include US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I recently connected with ICE officials at their New York City field office. Most of my City Council colleagues refused even to meet with ICE under the Trump administration. Now that it’s under the Biden administration and very different policies, they still won’t talk to the agency.

And city and state law still prohibit ICE from making arrests without a judicial warrant in jails and courthouses. Our NYPD officers are prohibited from honoring an ICE detainer. The Protect Our Courts Act, passed in Albany in 2020, bars ICE agents from arresting anyone who is on the way to or from a court proceeding. This needs to change.

ICE’s most critical mission is to keep violent, dangerous people out of our country. No matter who’s in the White House, ICE agents must be allowed to enter our jails and courthouses and work with local law enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security and ICE were created in the wake of 9/11 when we realized how vulnerable we were. It’s bizarre that so many leaders of the city that suffered the most devastating terrorist attack in history, made possible by lax immigration enforcement, are staunchly opposed to enforcing the law now.

Some of my colleagues were children or not here on 9/11, but that’s no excuse for advocating policies that leave us open to another attack. It’s yet another “progressive” idea that takes us backward.

Asylum-seeking migrants heading to the border in El Paso ahead of the potential lifting of Title 42.
Go Nakamura for New York Post

The Trump administration reopened thousands of cases, but Team Biden has administratively closed them. The media have provided little coverage of the massive migrant surge on our southern border compared with the constant “caravan” reports in the Trump era. New Biden policies, along with Title 42’s expiration, will attract even more people.

Fewer illegal immigrants will be incarcerated as the Biden administration moves toward letting detainees out on what is essentially parole. Asylum officers are hearing cases instead of immigration judges to speed up clearing the caseload.

ICE in New York City was typically processing about 100 cases a day not long ago. Now, they average about 350 and sometimes more than 500. More migrants coming across the border makes us less safe because they are not properly vetted. They merely have to say that they are fleeing violence and they are given an “alien number” and told to report to the field office in whichever city they claim to have relatives in. It’s not clear what apparatus is in place — if any — if a migrant never reports to that office.

This leaves tens of thousands of illegal immigrants unaccounted for, all over the United States. There are about 600,000 undocumented people in New York City and about 235,000 in Queens. It’s an added strain on our crumbling infrastructure, social services, law enforcement and justice system.

I recently met with NYC Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan to discuss the dramatic increase in fentanyl and other opioid overdoses over the last five years. She and her staff explained that the lion’s share of illicit drugs pouring into our country is smuggled through the southern border.

We are a nation of immigrants, and our city has always been built, run and made more vibrant by immigrants from all over the world. But as with all processes, there are rules. Have legal immigrants who spent time, money and effort becoming legal citizens wasted that? What must they think when they read about an immigrant here illegally who gets caught committing a crime and is still allowed to stay?

Criminals in our city have one thing in common, no matter where they come from: They do not belong on the streets. With our broken bail system (thanks to pro-crime policies from Albany), many perpetrators are let right out of jail only to commit more crime. Violent criminals who are here illegally should be deported rather than put through our revolving-door justice system.

David Bonola, who allegedly murdered Queens mother Orsolya Gaal, was in the country illegally at the time of the murder.
David Bonola, who allegedly murdered Queens mother Orsolya Gaal, was in the country illegally at the time of the murder.
Ellis Kaplan

New Yorkers were stunned to read about the grisly murder of Forest Hills woman Orsolya Gaal, who was stabbed 58 times, dismembered and stuffed in a duffle bag by her on-again, off-again lover and handyman, David Bonola. Bonola was in the United States illegally — yet another person not even supposed to be here who committed a violent crime.

Regardless of Gaal’s relationship with Bonola, she would likely be alive if immigration laws were enforced. Even now, all ICE can do is file a detainer that will be ignored.

ICE needs a higher headcount to keep up with this tremendous influx of immigration. Its agents also need access to our jails, courthouses and precincts so they can make our city safer. Lawmakers should repeal the legislation that keeps these law-enforcement officers out of courthouses and jails, right after they repeal disastrous bail “reform.”

It’s time to make this city a sanctuary for law-abiding New Yorkers.

Robert Holden, a Democrat, represents the 30th District, covering parts of Queens, in the City Council.

.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.