NYC Mayor Eric Adams calls for expanded cooperation between police and immigration authorities

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NEW YORK (AP) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams called Tuesday for expanded cooperation between local police and federal immigration authorities, attacking the current city policies limiting such communication as detrimental to public safety.

The comments marked the mayor’s sharpest rebuke to date of so-called sanctuary laws adopted by New York over the last decade, which were meant to protect the city’s immigrant population by limiting how local agencies can assist in federal detention and deportation efforts.

Citing his “fundamental disagreement” with those laws, Adams, a Democrat, said the city's police department should be free to cooperate with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents when a person is suspected of a serious crime, such as robbery or gang activity.

“We should be communicating with ICE, and if ICE makes the determination of deporting, then they should,” Adams said.

“The mere fact that we cannot share with ICE that this person has committed three robberies, that this person is part of an organized gang crew, the mere fact that we can’t say that or communicate that, that’s problematic for me," he continued.

New York’s sanctuary policies have drawn intense backlash from conservatives in recent weeks following some high-profile incidents involving migrants, including a brawl with police and a shooting in Times Square.

The city first began limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement agents in the 1980s as a public safety measure to assure the city’s large foreign-born population that they didn't have to be afraid to interact with local police.

Backers of those policies at the time included Republican Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who argued that from a crimefighting perspective, it was important to make immigrants less fearful of police.

Those limits on cooperation have since been expanded under subsequent administrations.

While Adams lamented the “drastic shifts” in the policy, he did not explicitly say which aspects of the law he would seek to rescind. But his spokesperson, Charles Lutvak, said the mayor was specifically opposed to a pair of laws implemented in 2014 and 2017 under his predecessor, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The first prevents the city from honoring requests by immigration authorities to hold crime suspects in custody unless they have been convicted of certain violent offenses and a judge has issued a warrant for their removal. The second law prohibits the use of city resources to assist in immigration enforcement efforts.

Proponents of those laws said they ensure due process is afforded to immigrants, who could otherwise face detention and deportation for the mere suspicion of criminal conduct.

Adams cannot adjust the laws without the approval of the City Council, whose progressive leaders have said they have no plans to revisit the protections.

But by embracing calls to roll back the laws, Adams had leant credence to the dubious idea that migrants were fueling a rise in crime, according to Zachary Ahmad, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“Mayor Adams’ shameful threats to end New York’s years-long status as a sanctuary city will only result in the cruel targeting, demonization, and demoralization of our immigrant neighbors,” he said. “Immigrants are not props for theatrics that put their lives at risk.”