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As expected, Mayor Bloomberg signed off on two bills that will limit the city's cooperation with federal immigration authorities.
“The city values the contributions of immigrants,” Bloomberg said during today’s signing, “and these bills are part of the administration’s continual effort to balance protecting public safety and national security with ensuring that New York is the most immigrant-friendly city in the world.”
Bloomberg said that the bills were a direct response to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Secure Communities program with the New York Police Department. The federal mandate requires that city law enforcement agencies send suspects’ fingerprints to the Department of Homeland Security, much like a similar program called the Criminal Alien Program linked the Department of Correction with federal authorities.
The City Council responded to the latter with a bill requiring the DOC’s non-enforcement of the policy in cases where a suspect has either no criminal history or charges and who don’t pose a danger to the community. Bloomberg signed that bill in 2012, and strengthened it with his signature today. The same guidelines for DOC will now also apply to the police department.
Advocates view the bills’ ratification as equally important to the original legislation from 2011, which supporters say prevented 267 deportations by DOC.
Elected representatives from both the city and federal level took to a small stage in Manhattan's West Village to demand equality for undocumented lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender immigrants.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velázquez, both primarily based in Brooklyn, stopped by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center to demand that the federal government give LGBT couples the same protections as heterosexuals.
They were joined by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu, as well as Council members Daniel Dromm, Jimmy Van Bramer, Letitia James and Melissa Mark-Viverito.
"While there remains a bumpy road ahead," Velázquez said, "it has become clear that the political stars are aligning in favor of finally addressing this critical social justice issue."
Velázquez also saluted Republican Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, which elicited a wave of applause from the audience. Portman announced his support on Friday for gay marriage after he revealed his son is gay. Velázquez said that while she and Portman don't agree on many issues, Republicans like Portman could prove instrumental to recognizing LGBT immigrants during Senate discussions on reform.