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NYC Council reacts to calls for 'sanctuary' city status to be ditched after wave of illegal migrant crimes

New York City will not be changing its sanctuary city laws despite a wave of crimes linked to illegal migrants who have been cut loose by law enforcement.

The New York City Council is refusing to re-evaluate its sanctuary city laws of not cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on deportation matters, despite a growing list of crimes being attributed to migrants arrested in the Big Apple and then let go – with the Laken Riley murder suspect being the latest. 

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said earlier this week that illegal migrants who commit crimes should be ejected from the country, but the council’s speaker Adrienne Adams blasted his comments as "harmful" and doubled down on the controversial laws on Wednesday.

"We are not considering changes to laws. These laws have been in effect for decades," Council speaker Adams said at an unrelated press conference at City Hall, according to the New York Post.


"I think that it would be harmful to retract and go backwards instead of going forward as far as the law is concerned."

Sanctuary cities either limit or outright forbid law enforcement from honoring ICE detainers, which are requests from the agency that ICE be notified ahead of their release from state custody and allowed to transfer illegal immigrant criminals into custody.

New York City’s sanctuary city law was enacted in 2014 and ended cooperation with federal detainer requests for all residents, except those who have been convicted of violent or serious felonies. Detainers request local law enforcement to keep a suspect in custody until the suspect can be transferred to ICE and put into deportation proceedings. 

Critics of the law, including Republican Councilman Joe Borelli, argue it allows criminal illegal immigrants to carry out crimes since they are shielded from deportation efforts. 

This week it was revealed by ICE that Jose Ibarra, the alleged killer of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley, was previously arrested in New York City, but he was released before ICE could issue a detainer. 

"It is a direct result of the City Council passing legislation that limits cooperation," Borelli said. "If those laws were not enacted, the Department of Corrections would have given ICE the opportunity to issue a detainer against Jose Ibarra," Borelli told Fox News Digital in a phone interview this week. 

Separately, there have been other alleged crimes committed by illegal immigrants, including an arrest in connection to the murder of a 2-year-old in Maryland, who had detainers lodged against them but were not honored by authorities. A Guatemalan illegal immigrant was arrested this week for the sexual assault of a child in Boston, despite ICE lodging a detainer against him previously, while many of the suspects who beat up two NYPD officers in Times Square last month had previously been arrested and released. 


In 2021, Mayor Adams insisted the city’s sanctuary policy would not change under his leadership, but he walked back those comments this week in the face of mounting public fury over several high-profile crimes related to illegal immigrants let loose in New York City.

"We should not be allowing people who are repeatedly committing crimes to remain here, and we cannot collaborate with ICE in the process," the mayor told reporters at City Hall Tuesday. 

On Wednesday, after Councilmember Adams’ comments, the White House called for sanctuary cities and jurisdictions across the U.S. to cooperate with ICE in turning over criminal illegal immigrants for deportation.

"We welcome local law enforcement’s support and cooperation in apprehending and removing individuals who pose a risk to national security or public safety," a White House spokesperson told Fox News Digital on Wednesday in response to a question about its stance on sanctuary cities. "When a local jurisdiction has information about an individual who could pose a threat to public safety, we want them to share that information with ICE." 

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told CNN on Thursday that the state has a different sanctuary policy to New York City in that it can work with federal immigration officials when a crime has been committed.

Hochul said that a migrant who commits a crime should be arrested, tried and jailed in New York before being deported. Hochul said that if they are deported before facing charges, they could disappear or go back to their native country and try to return to the U.S. 

"We should not be talking about crimes being committed by migrants in the streets of New York, and the vast majority of them are law-abiding citizen, they truly are," Hochul said.

"They came here for a better life and I don't want to highlight those who've committed crimes. They do exist. They exist in every society. But right now, the state of New York has the power to work with Ice when these situations occur."

Nearly 7.3 million migrants have illegally crossed the southwest border under President Biden's watch, a number greater than the population of 36 individual states, a Fox News analysis has found. 

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