AUGUST 2003

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Bloomberg Admits Failures in Executive Order
From El Diario
July 10, 2003

By Fernando Aquino

Mayor Michael Bloomberg admitted yesterday that there could be things that are unclear in Executive Order 34, and that he is ready to “revisit” it.

Speaking in an editorial meeting with El Diario, Bloomberg said that today, he will meet with Queens City Councilmember Hiram Monserrate and reiterated that he is ready to continue talking.

“ I believe that the majority of his fears – Monserrate’s – are wrong,” said Bloomberg. “But there are some things that we could probably change in order to clarify them.”

Bloomberg was emphatic in restating that what he does with the order has to comply with federal law. “There is a federal law that now says: you may not order your employees not to report. I am not going to violate the law. Thank you. You go to jail, I am not going to go to jail,” said Bloomberg. “This is the law and we have to comply,” he said.

According to the mayor, his Executive order specifies better than Ex-Mayor Edward Koch’s order what one can do and when to do it, in terms of reporting or not reporting the undocumented to Immigration Services.

“ I believe that the undocumented are better protected today that ever…If you are arrested and you are illegal, we inform the INS of you. This is what the law says, and this is what we will do,” explained the Mayor. Bloomberg reiterated that he believes that the only solution to the problem is to make “legal citizens” of everyone who is here and then control the borders.

Executive Order 34 liberates the “reporting” restrictions imposed on employees of the city by Executive Order 124, signed by Ex-Mayor Edward Koch in 1989, and reiterated by mayors David Dinkins and Rudolph Giuliani.

Green Light to Policies

In terms of the Police Department, the new order gave the green light to the agents to interact with the undocumented, permitting them the “flexibility” to question them about their status and, if esteemed convenient, report them to the federal government.

Moreover, for other city agencies, the order establishes the policy of not asking about status unless it is required by federal law, but it does not impede them from doing so.

Bloomberg signed the order this past May 13th, and his functionaries implemented it timidly in the following weeks, presenting it as a benefit to immigrants.

The great publicity given to the order by Councilmember Hiram Monserrate and the groups that defend the rights of immigrants, who denounced the order as detrimental for undocumented people.

Initial Opposition

Monserrate alleges that, for fear of being reported to the immigration authorities, many undocumented people would not have access to city services.

“ No agency of the city of New York should be in the business of reporting the undocumented. The police of the city of New York have to have restrictions and in the current order there are none. They can question, detain, and report. I believe that the order is too ample,” he said. “If the federal government wants to come with their agents, let them do it, but not the city of New York,” he continued.

Monserrate believes that the best solution, which he is proposing in the City Council, is to approve the intro 38 or “Access without fear” that would protect the confidentiality not only of the undocumented but also of all the residents of the city. Tomorrow he will read both the results of the meeting between the Mayor and the sectors that oppose Executive Order 34 and the mayor’s justification for why the undocumented that are arrested are questioned about their status even if they are innocent of the crimes.

Translated from Spanish by Charlotte Triggs.

 

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