The divide that immigration policies have created among Americans is evident. While there seems to be no end in sight in regards to solving the illegal immigrant issue in the country, lawmakers in New York are debating the extent of the state’s legal help with certain groups. Many argue that immigrants convicted of criminal crimes should not qualify for state-assisted funding, but where should the line between petty and serious crimes be drawn?
WNYC News featured a piece on the topic of the state’s shifting immigration policies, noting that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently reconsidered the extent of legal assistance granted to immigrants with criminal backgrounds. In an announcement that brought to attention New York’s sanctuary city law, which limits the cooperation on the end of Immigration and Custom Enforcement, de Blasio reaffirmed that the city lists 170 criminal offenses that qualify for immigration agent referral. According to WNYC, a city budget proposal of $16 million is dedicated to helping immigrants seek asylum and sort through deportation obstacles. The reassessment of aid distribution has sparked controversy among state officials, some of whom claim the new limits to the program only create bigger problems for asylum seekers down the road. In addition, WNYC states that out of the 8,000 immigrants currently in the state, only about 400 could have criminal records.
This potential change in New York’s assistance to immigrants introduces a new question: are petty crimes constituents to criminal charges? The New York Times weighs in on this complex issue, as the Brooklyn district attorney has created a policy that outlines particular prosecutions that exist outside the grounds for deportation. Having taken effect earlier this year, the policy seeks to protect lawful residents by requiring communication between prosecutors and defense lawyers regarding the potential immigration consequences of certain cases.