Photo: Councilmembers and staff at Thursday’s hearing. Credit: Hannah Grossman

 

By Hannah Grossman

 

The Immigration Committee at City Council rejected a bill on Thursday that would have moved forward with the abolish ICE agenda.

The bill proposed ending revenue contracts with entities that aid or abet immigration enforcement as a step towards a more “humane” immigration policy, according Carlos Menchaca, the councilmember who sponsored the bill.

ICE has become a “rogue agency,” City Council speaker Corey Johnson said. Instead of preventing terror and targeting serious criminals, ICE began to “wrongly detain” hundreds of American citizens and undocumented immigrants with clean records, critics have said.

Other abuses, according to Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, include reports of sexual abuse at its facilities. From 2013-2017 there were 1,300 complaints of sexual abuse from ICE detention facilities, it was said at the hearing on Thursday.

Those opposing the idea of abolishing ICE wondered if scrapping the agency might make the country less safe. “They are removing people with a criminal past. I know there are abuses, but correct the abuses. Don’t throw the baby out of the bathwater,” Councilmember Robert Holden said.

Holden also questioned a de Blasio official, Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs Bitta Mostofi, about the clarity of the agenda. “You say abolish ICE and then replace it with something, but we don’t know what that is,” he said.

Those supportive of abolishing ICE said they want to transfer ICE’s essential functions to other governmental agencies. “There are other entities that can do that work,” Johnson said.