Thursday, March 7, 2013



Legislation would limit cooperation between the City and federal immigration authorities in order to prevent the deportation of immigrants who present no threat to public safety. Street vendor bill would cap maximum fines at $500 and will alleviate congestion on city sidewalks. New York, NY- Today, the City Council will vote to prevent unnecessary deportations at the hands of federal immigration authorities. Legislation would limit cooperation between the City and federal immigration authorities in order to reduce the deportation of immigrants who present no threat to public safety.

The Council will also vote on a legislative package that would ease the financial burden on street vendors, clarify City regulations on where vendors can operate and reduce sidewalk congestion. Limiting Cooperation between the City and Federal Immigration Authorities, the stated mission of the federal government’s activities in New York City is the deportation of criminal aliens who pose a threat to public safety. In reality, however, immigrants without criminal records and those who are not a risk to society are being deported, needlessly damaging communities and families.

The Council first addressed this problem in 2011 by passing legislation to limit the Department of Correction’s (DOC) cooperation with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE.  Prior to the legislation, ICE’s activities at the City’s jails created a dragnet seemingly designed to capture every undocumented immigrant, even if they posed no threat to public safety. 

Local Law 62 of 2011 established guidelines for DOC to follow in determining whether to honor immigration detainers, providing that, among other things, a detainer would not be honored on an individual who had no criminal record.
In 2012, ICE activated Secure Communities in New York City. Secure Communities makes it easier for ICE to issue detainers and puts immigrants in New York City who pose no public safety threat at greater risk of becoming caught up in a Federal immigration system widely acknowledged to be broken.
As a result of this increase in immigration enforcement, the Council will vote on two pieces of legislation that build upon our work regarding ICE's activities at Rikers Island. These bills will further limit the impact of harsh immigration policies like the Criminal Alien Program and Secure Communities on the city’s immigrant population.
Under the legislation, the City will still honor detainers in many circumstances. For example, if the person held has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor within the past ten years, the city will honor the detainer. The City will also honor the detainer if the person is a possible match in the terrorist database, has a history of immigration violations, has a pending felony charge, or is charged with certain misdemeanors, including sex abuse, assault, gun possession, driving while intoxicated or the violation of an order of protection.
However, the legislation prohibits the City from honoring detainer requests in circumstances where immigrants are youthful offenders, are without significant criminal records, have been accused of low-level offenses or are convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses. 

This is a significant change from the current law as the legislation will prohibit the honoring of detainers on many individuals who have no connection with the criminal justice or immigration systems other than a pending misdemeanor charge.
“Current policy is eroding the trust between immigrants and local law enforcement and that frustrates the stated purpose of ‘Secure’ Communities,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “If immigrants believe that the police will hand them over to immigration authorities, they are less likely to report crimes, and this can only have a negative effect on public safety. We have seen too many families torn apart by current detention and deportation practices. This is heartbreaking and unfair. Our legislation will ensure that the City does not enable such a harmful policy. This is a matter of critical importance, not just for New York, but for our country.”
“It is fair and just for our city to limit its cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials especially where it concerns immigrant New Yorkers who have been convicted of low-level offenses or who have no past criminal record,” said Immigration Committee Chair Daniel Dromm. “But we must also take the necessary steps to ensure that those who pose no threat to our city do not slip through the cracks of our system and get unfairly swept away in detention. As we hear more from the advocates and the administration on the effectiveness of our existing laws, I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council to strengthen legislation to protect our immigrant communities.”
“Today, the Council reaffirms its commitment to protecting our immigrant communities,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We will not allow our city’s resources to be used to facilitate the unjust deportations of hardworking New Yorkers that pose no threat to public safety. These pieces of legislation place limits on our city’s collaboration with the Secure Communities enforcement program, as we await Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I thank Speaker Quinn and Chair Dromm for their leadership on bringing this legislation forward, as well as the Bloomberg administration for their support. I also thank Make the Road New York and the Cardozo Law School for being a critical driving force in passing these important bills.”
The legislation the Council will vote on today will ensure that New York City remains a leader of immigrant rights and protects immigrant families from unjust deportations.
Street Vendor Legislation
Specifically, the bills the Council is scheduled to pass will:
• Decrease the maximum fine for vending violations from $1,000 to $500 and change the penalty system so that penalties increase for repeated violations only. This legislation would not affect violations of the health code or for vending without a license. 
• Prohibit all vendors from vending within a taxi stand. 
• Prohibit vending within twenty feet of building entranceways and residential buildings exits and next to no standing zones near hospitals.
• Require officers that issue violations to record the permit number of the vehicle or cart when issuing violations. This will enable agencies to identify all violations issued to a particular cart or vendor when reissuing permits.
• Improve transparency on violations issued to vendors by requiring the Department of Consumer Affairs to submit annual reports to the Council on vendor license and permit revocations and suspensions. The legislation will also require the Administration to submit quarterly reports on vendor adjudications.

“Current vendor laws are widely misunderstood and frequently ignored,” said Council Member Garodnick. “These bills will help to ensure that fines get paid, that permit holders self-police the vendors working for them, and that the rules themselves are easier and fairer all around.”
Council Member Gale A. Brewer said, “I want to thank Speaker Quinn and Consumer Affairs Chair Garodnick for their assistance in moving Intro 684 forward. This legislation has the simple goal of correcting a discrepancy in city law that bans general vendors from operating within taxi stands, but allows for food vendors. My bill would bar food vendors from operating within taxi stands as well, keeping these areas free to serve their intended purpose of providing safe access to transportation. I am supportive of vendors, which are an important part of our city’s small business landscape, but we also need common sense regulations to govern their operation. I am also a Sponsor of Intro 434-A, introduced by Council Member Levin, which reduces the maximum fines for vending violations. I believe in sensible regulation, but not exorbitant fines. The package of vendor bills we are voting on today strikes the appropriate balance, and I look forward to its passage.”
“This legislation will go a long way towards making life a little easier on hardworking vendors,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “Currently, fines for even minor violations, such as being a few inches too far from the curb, escalate for unrelated offenses, reaching to a maximum of $1,000. Like all small business owners, vendors cannot afford to pay these exorbitant penalties. This legislation will reduce the maximum fine to $500, aligning the penalty with the violation and ensuring that vendors can afford to pay their fines. I would like to thank Speaker Quinn and Chairman Garodnick, who have been enormously supportive of small businesses in New York City, for their leadership and their work on this bill.”
“Our city needs to support and not criminalize our hardworking street vendors,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I am proud that the Council is taking a stand to lower the punitive fines that make it difficult for vendors to earn a living and I thank the Street vendor project for their incredible advocacy. Under the bill I am sponsoring, the Council will receive annual reports on vending licenses and fines. My hope is that this data will help inform future policy changes to our city's vending system. I thank Speaker Quinn and my colleagues for their leadership and support.”
Central Park Five Resolution
To acknowledge the suffering of the five men convicted of attacking and raping Trisha Meili (commonly known as the Central Park Jogger), the Council will vote on a resolution calling on the City of New York to settle the civil suit brought by these men as swiftly as possible to close this chapter of their lives and end this long, painful process – both for them and for Ms. Meili.