The vice president for the NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association slammed New York mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday for instituting sanctuary city polices despite the fact that “every single one” of the union’s approximately 13,000 members wanted to help ICE take criminals off the street.
SBA vice president Vincent Vallelong delivered the message during a Friday press conference on the city’s failure to prevent the death of 92-year-old Maria Fuertes earlier this month.
“I can guarantee you every single one of our members wants to help them out. Unfortunately, the way the policies are set up, they don’t allow us to,” Vallelong said while standing beside acting ICE director Matthew Albence. “It’s another law enforcement group — how do we have our own hands handcuffed to not be able to work with these guys? We’re here not to go pick and choose what crimes are out there, we’re here to actually enforce the law, and that’s exactly what these guys are doing, and that’s why we’re here to support them today.”
Vallelong also challenged de Blasio to “step up” and defend his sanctuary policies, saying that ICE’s efforts would “absolutely” impact crime. Albence said in the press conference that the city has refused 7,526 of ICE’s detainer requests, a much higher figure than the city’s reported number of 2,916.
“The mayor can say what he wants to say, he owns this, and that’s right,” Vallelong said. “He should step up and say that these are his policies, that he owns it.”
The dispute between ICE and the mayor’s office, which has instituted a directive from de Blasio to not comply with ICE’s attempts to enforce immigration law, came to a head earlier this month with the case of Fuertes, who was raped and murdered on the street outside of her home by Reeaz Khan, a 21-year-old Guyanese national.
On Tuesday, ICE released a statement revealing that the agency had lodged a detainer request for Khan in November after he was arrested for assaulting his father, but the detainer was ignored and Khan was subsequently released.
“New York City’s sanctuary policies continue to threaten the safety of all residents of the five boroughs, as they repeatedly protect criminal aliens who show little regard for the laws of this nation,” Thomas Decker, ICE’s field office director for Enforcement and Removal Operations in New York, said in a statement Monday.
De Blasio’s office responded by saying they would potentially hand over Khan if he is convicted, and accused ICE of “politicizing” the tragedy.
The mayor himself took to Twitter Wednesday to accuse acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf of “spreading lies about the good work of the NYPD.”
“The Trump administration’s scare tactics destroy trust in law enforcement. The day our police ask for immigration status is the day people stop reporting crimes & sharing information,” de Blasio tweeted. “It’s the day we stop being the safest big city in America. We won’t let that happen.”