The head of the NYPD sergeants union on Sunday criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for not requiring the city’s police force to act as immigration enforcers as the Trump administration intensifies its deportation efforts.
Sergeants Benevolent Association president Ed Mullins, during an interview on “The Cats Roundtable” radio program on 970 AM, said the city’s top brass have a “moral obligation” to cooperate with federal immigration agents, and accused de Blasio, a Democrat seeking re-election this year, of “placating” voters.
“We can’t ignore people who commit crimes, harbor them, because we want to get votes in an election year,” Mullins told the show’s host, former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.
Last week the Trump administration outlined a new immigration enforcement plan that calls for hiring additional federal immigration officers, speeding up the deportation process and enlisting local police departments to help with arrests.
In response, de Blasio issued a statement saying the city would cooperate with federal authorities in cases where there are “proven public safety threats,” but would not “turn our NYPD officers into immigration agents.”
Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, in a departmentwide memo issued Wednesday, reiterated the department’s immigration-related policies, noting “the NYPD does not conduct civil immigration enforcement,” but would continue to cooperate with federal authorities “when there is a risk to public safety,” including turning over offenders convicted of “violent or serious” felonies, or who are on the terrorist watch list.
“This department does not enforce administrative warrants issued by Immigration and Custom Enforcement agents or federal immigration judges solely in connection with civil immigration violations,” O’Neill wrote. “For example, the NYPD does not arrest or detain individuals for immigration violations such as overstaying a lawfully-issued visa.”
Mullins said he has spoken to NYPD officers who “want to cooperate” fully with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. Spokesmen for the NYPD’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, which represents the city’s rank-and-file officers, and the Detectives’ Endowment Association could not immediately be reached Sunday.
Asked about Mullins’ remarks, de Blasio spokesman Eric Phillips defended the current policy, saying officers “work with ICE to remove dangerous criminals posing a threat to our communities,” but “block ICE when they want to needlessly tear families apart for low-level, nonviolent infractions.”
Last year the NYPD turned over 72 immigrants living in the country illegally to federal authorities, according to police figures.