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Bipartisan NYC pols push for referendum on ‘sanctuary city’ laws: ‘misguided and dangerous’

NEW YORK, US - NOVEMBER 15: Migrants board MTA busses to be transported to a Hotel after NYC Mayor Adams announced the temporary housing unit would be closed indefinitely: November 15, 2022 (Photo by Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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New York City voters in November could have the power to repeal “misguided and dangerous” “sanctuary city” laws that severely limit the NYPD’s ability to cooperate with the feds on immigration matters and are a clear “threat to public safety.”

Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island), Robert Holden (D-Queens) and six other members of the City Council’s “Common Sense Caucus” fired off a letter this week to a newly-appointed Charter Revision Commission, asking it to put a referendum question on the ballot to determine whether to roll back the “sanctuary” laws that help criminals avoid deportation.

“We are writing to urge the Charter Revision Commission to advance a ballot initiative asking voters if New York City should repeal recent so-called ‘sanctuary city’ laws that prohibit members of law enforcement and other agencies from cooperating with federal authorities to help detain or remove unauthorized, non-citizens who have committed crimes in our city,” says the letter dated Tuesday.

“We feel these laws, as currently construed, are not only misguided and dangerous, they have strayed far from their original purpose of fostering public safety. Ultimately it should be put to voters to decide who is right.”

Earlier this month, Holden and Borelli drafted legislation to repeal the sanctuary laws — but they realize it’s a pipe dream to think the Council’s left-wing majority would pass it.

So they’re hoping for better luck with the commission, which was appointed by Mayor Eric Adams, a retired NYPD cop and moderate Dem who has said the current rules are too soft on crime.

Some Common Sense Caucus members expect to pitch the referendum plan in person during a future public hearing hosted by the commission. Both Holden and Borelli said they believe voters would back their proposed ballot initiative.

The letter makes clear the council members prefer NYC returns to its original sanctuary-city policies, which were first enforced in 1989 under then-Mayor Ed Koch to help ensure non-citizens who are victims of crimes can cooperate with authorities without fear of being deported.

However, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg updated the rules in 2011, prohibiting the city from honoring federal immigration detainer requests unless a warrant is issued and the targeted non-citizen is on a terrorist watch list or convicted of murder or another serious crime within five years.

A series of controversial left-wing policies pushed into law from 2014 to 2018 by then-Mayor Bill de Blasio dramatically limited the NYPD and city Correction and Probation departments’ ability to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents even further.

They also outlawed city buildings, including the Rikers Island jail complex, and other city resources from being used to enforce federal immigration laws.

The results of the changes “have been predictable,” the pols wrote, noting the NYPD rejected all 109 detainer requests it received from ICE last fiscal year, while the Correction Department handed over only 11 of 201 non-citizens requested.

They also outlawed city buildings, including the Rikers Island jail complex, and other city resources from being used to enforce federal immigration laws.

The current system is a “threat to public safety,” they added.

For instance, murdered Georgia nursing student Laken Riley might still be alive if it wasn’t for the sanctuary city policies, critics have said.

The 22-year-old was found dead Feb. 22 on the University of Georgia’s campus, six months after her alleged killer Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, was arrested in Queens and charged with endangering a child.

The NYPD had no choice but to cut the Venezuelan-born Ibarra loose — instead of turning him over to federal immigration officials — because he didn’t have any major crime convictions.

Commission Chairman Carlo Scissura the letter would be reviewed but declined further comment.

Kayla Mamelak, a spokesperson for Mayor Adams, said it’s the Charter Revision Commission’s job to decide what ballot questions go before New Yorkers in November, and the mayor “will respect whatever independent decision” it makes.


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