Editor’s Note: This post is authored by Michael Christifulli ’18 and Hannah Rainka ’18

Although illegal immigration is typically associated with border states, such as Texas and Arizona, it has become a growing problem in New York in recent years. The total population of illegal immigrants in New York hovers around 1 million people, which is the fourth largest in the United States. With the current sanctuary city policies in many localities throughout New York, there are not sufficient means in place for officials to combat the illegal immigration problem that exists in our state. Therefore, the New York State legislature needs to pass the proposed immigration reform bill (S. 3698/A. 2872A), which aims to deport illegal immigrants that commit crimes in New York.

If the legislature were to pass this illegal immigration reform bill, it would improve the safety of all New Yorkers. This bill targets criminal illegal immigrants, who are harming residents that live throughout New York. For example, in Brentwood, a Long Island suburb, illegal immigrants associated with the MS-13 gang have been connected to 27 murders, and numerous disappearances, since 2013. Five of these murders have been of high school students. These violent illegal immigrants are targeting defenseless individuals in our communities, and with the current sanctuary policies in place, these criminal illegal aliens are often protected from federal deportation, allowing them to remain in our communities.

Local officials are not equipped with the necessary resources to perform immigration enforcement activities. Additionally, local sanctuary policies create barriers that prevent federal immigration officials from doing their jobs. These sanctuary city policies prevent officials from using detainer requests to hold illegal immigrants at the end of their sentences for deportation, and from conducting enforcement activities in local jails. As a result, illegal immigrants are released back into communities at the end of their sentences, and many times just end up committing more crimes. Passage of this bill would allow federal immigration officials to conduct enforcement activities with fewer barriers and remove illegal immigrants that have committed crimes in New York.

New York can play an important role in immigration reform since our residents are experiencing the immigration crisis firsthand. The State Senate has already passed this important reform and it is now up to the State Assembly to act and pass this bill. Passage of this bill will create a safer New York State. How can New York continue to be this “great” state if our policies and officials are doing more to protect the illegal immigrants in their communities, rather than their citizens and other legal residents?

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