New York City hopes to prohibit its Police Department (NYPD) personnel from giving any information from a gang database to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and any federal agency that might enforce immigration laws.
On Tuesday, Councilman Rory Lancman introduced legislation to immediately bar the NYPD from expending “time while on duty or department resources of any kind disclosing information” about individuals who are or have ever been in the database to ICE or “any other person or federal agency if the department knows or could reasonably expect such information to be used for the enforcement of any civil provision” of the Immigration and Nationality Act or any provision that penalizes illegal presence in the country.
NYPD’s gang database has been the source of ire for both social justice warriors and open border advocates because they claim it is too easy to be unfairly added to the database, which might result in deportation. The city has worked to reduce the size of the database and has reduced the names from 34,000 five years ago to the current 17,500. But those efforts, and the facts about the database have been ignored by the leftist legislators.
On June 13, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea told a council committee that that to be included in the gang database, an individual has to either admit to gang membership; must frequent known gang locations; be in possession of “gang-related documents”; have scars and tattoos associated with gang; and possess paraphernalia linked to specific gangs. Only gang detectives or intelligence officers can recommend entries to the database.
“It is not enough for a person to be in a gang location, or to flash hand signs, or to wear gang colors on a certain day,” he said.
Nor is the database a path to deportation. In fact, Shea noted that NYPD is already barred from sharing information with ICE if that will be used to initiate deportation proceedings. Even if they were not, there is a strong argument that federal authorities should be notified for the sake of public safety.
Police statistics show 50 percent of shootings last year involved a gang member as either the victim or the perpetrator, though surely not all gang violence in New York entails deportable aliens. In addition, some 43 percent of the gun deaths last year occurred with some type of gang nexus.
Contrary to the impression given by Lancman and his allies, the names in the database are primarily habitual offenders. Of those included in the database, Shea said 90 percent have been arrested for at least one felony and the average gang member has been arrested 11 times.
Councilman Lancman’s bill would not protect citizens of New York, nor prevent individuals from being improperly added to the database. But it would be a welcomed by illegal alien gang members who would be given another way to evade being held accountable for violating the law.