New York City mayor calls for modification of sanctuary city law

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) said that city lawmakers should modify its sanctuary city law to allow migrants who commit violent crimes to be deported.

Adams’s Tuesday comments come as migration into New York City comes under criticism from lawmakers and law enforcement. Adams and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) have long pressured the Biden administration and Congress for additional assistance to get migrants work visas and receive additional housing support.

“The overwhelming amount of migrants that are here, they want to work. I still don’t understand why the federal government’s not allowing them to work,” Adams said at an event Monday. “They need to have the right to work like all of us that have come to this country had the ability to do so.”

He continued, “But those small numbers that are committing crimes, we need to modify the sanctuary city law that if you commit a felony, a violent act, we should be able to turn you over to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] and have you deported. It is a right to live in this city, and you should not be committing crimes in our city. Right now, we don’t have the authority to do so.”

The call for a policy shift comes after a spate of high-profile violent crimes committed by migrants, including the shooting of a tourist in a Times Square store robbery earlier this month.

New York City was the first to implement a so-called sanctuary city policy to not cooperate with federal immigration authorities in 1989. It was expanded to bar the city from handing over migrants to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with few exceptions, in 2014. 

The policy has been enacted by dozens of cities nationwide and become the center of political fights over immigration policy in recent years.

Adams doubled down on the shift in a press conference Tuesday.

“I don’t believe people who are violent in our city and commit repeated crimes should have the privilege of being in our city,” Adams said. “You don’t have the right to be in our city and tarnish the overwhelming number who are here following the rules.” 

The mayor would need a majority of the city’s Legislature to back a proposal to change the sanctuary policy. City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said earlier this week that the body had no plans to take up any changes, CNN reported.

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) used Adams’s comments to bash sanctuary city policy, writing on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that “Democrats don’t even want to live under their policies.”

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