A top New York Police Department official said on Friday that turnstile-jumpers — including repeat offenders — will not be handed over to immigration officials for deportation proceedings.
“Even if you’re a recidivist and jumped a turnstile for the fourth or tenth time, and we arrest you for the misdemeanor crime, that’s a misdemeanor — it’s not a qualifying” offense for deportation efforts, NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Legal Affairs Larry Byrne told reporters today. “Nobody is getting deported for a minor offense.”
The remarks by Byrne were made at a media availability inside NYPD headquarters, one day after NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill sent a memo to officers, reminding them not to ask about a person’s immigration status in most instances. They also come shortly after the Trump administration issued revised orders aimed at deporting more undocumented immigrants.
Byrne said police do not help, or cooperate with deportation efforts unless two conditions are met: the existence of a “federal judicial arrest warrant,” and the person who is the subject of that warrant committed within the last five years at least one of 170 crimes the city deems serious. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who opposes many of Trump’s policies, said he is open to making some changes to that list of 170 crimes, but has not provided details.
Byrne, a former federal prosecutor, said the NYPD cannot assist federal officials in deportation efforts without a suspect meeting those two criteria. He also said the “ICE detainer” requests the federal government sends to officials in New York “are just voluntary requests.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The remarks today were meant to ally concerns residents have about Trump’s effort to deport millions of undocumented residents. Undocumented residents are clustered in major American cities like New York, Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles, according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.
Byrne said people who commit low-level offenses in New York City — and have identification and no outstanding warrants — are given summonses and not fingerprinted. That process, he said, shields residents from having their information entered into computer systems which federal officials can then use in order to find undocumented residents.
“Nobody is getting deported for jumping a turnstile,” Byrne said. “Our policy is, if you jump a turnstile, unless you are a transit recidivist, you don’t even get a criminal summons. You get a civil summons … where you are not fingerprinted and that does not go into any criminal system.”
Councilman Rory Lancman of Queens and immigrants rights activists say the city’s policy of using police to address low-level crimes has led to deportations. Lancman called Byrne’s remarks “false” and pointed to a 2003 court document as proof. “Is mayor this poorly informed?” Lancman wrote on Twitter.
Mayor de Blasio has touted local restrictions on sharing information as key part of how he is keeping residents here safe from Trump’s deportation efforts.
But there are limits on the protections city officials can offer to residents racing federal deportation efforts. As Byrne told reporters today, “ICE and other federal agencies have authority to enforce those warrants completely independent of the NYPD and they don’t have to consult with us before they do that. They do that all the time. … There’s nothing new about that practice.”