What Happens When They Are Caught?
An officer from Immigration and Customs Enforcement makes an arrest.
By Ellen Thompson
“We are not the ones who enforce the immigration laws. If we encounter a victim or witness of a crime who is not documented we do not disclose their information,” a spokesman from the NYPD said.
“On the other hand, if the person engages in criminal conduct and we find out they are not documented they are held and reported to federal authorities, in which federal authorities then take over. But we encourage anyone, regardless of their status, if they have witnessed a crime to report it.”
The Department of Homeland Security has shown that when cases from local law enforcement are brought to their attention that the undocumented immigrants are typically detained and deported quickly and efficiently, a spokesperson with the department said, while Homeland Security tries to gain operational control of the nation’s borders.
Over the past four years, however, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has gradually budged open City Hall’s doors and has been waving to immigrant families to come on in, regardless of status.
In September 2003 Bloomberg issued Executive Order 41 ensuring all New Yorkers, including immigrants, access to the city services they need and are entitled to receive. Under the Executive Order undocumented immigrants no longer had reason to fear vital visits to the emergency room or applying for their children’s’ reduced school lunches, due to their status. Additionally, the Mayor’s order protects the information about a person’s sexual orientation, status as a victim of domestic violence, status as a crime witness, receipt of public assistance, and information in income tax records.
The Mayor’s powerful statement did more than allow undocumented immigrants a route to essential city services – it gave them an opportunity to drop their guard as their fears of being caught and deported slightly diminished.
In protecting information concerning immigration status, illegal immigrants are able to receive child welfare and foster care services, emergency shelter, immunizations and senior services among many others. If they are the victim or witness of a crime, or if they call or approach the police seeking assistance, police officers will not inquire about their immigration status.