In New York, ICE Ramping Up Enforcement Actions; Activist Lawyers Getting Taxpayer Subsidy to Counter

Joe's picture

By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

April 12, 2017

A three-day Immigration and Customs Enforcement removal operation in the New York area netted 31 criminal aliens from 13 nations, including a Guyanese national convicted of rape, immigration fugitives, at-large criminal aliens and illegal re-entries. Of the 31, 30 had criminal histories that include priors for rape, drug offenses, child endangerment and fraud.

ICE agents, immigration lawyers dueling.
As encouraging as the ICE news is, another New York development spells trouble ahead for immigration enforcement advocates. The Vera Institute for Justice, whose motto is “We Keep Families Together,” announced that it, along with other pro-immigrant organizations, will receive a $4 million grant to provide legal services to upstate New York aliens facing deportation. The grant, included as part of New York’s 2018 budget, will expand an existing program, the New York Family Unity Project, which began in Manhattan in 2013. Aliens whose income doesn’t exceed 200 percent of the federal poverty level and who are not otherwise represented will be provided a lawyer. Vera also claims founder status for the California Coalition for Universal Representation.

Coming as no surprise to veteran immigration enforcement advocates, Vera insists that despite taking a $4 million bite out of New York taxpayers’ pockets, providing free legal services to illegal immigrants is a money-saver. Stop me if you’ve heard this argument, posted on the Vera website, from other advocacy groups: “Providing legal counsel decreases detention time for immigrants and increases court effectiveness, thus saving taxpayer dollars and maximizing due process. In turn, helping families stay together increases their social and economic stability, thereby reducing long-term financial cost on state and city services.”

Much like California which puts spending on illegal immigrant entitlements ahead of infrastructure upgrades or citizens’ needs, New York could better allocate its $4 million windfall. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said the total needed over two decades to keep safe drinking water flowing and wastewater properly treated is near $80 billion. Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a paltry $2 billion in the current budget. The state’s schools are in better fiscal shape, but not much.

Taxpayer money spent in New York and California to defend deportable, often convicted felons speaks to the importance of continued rigorous enforcement. Had such determination to enforce immigration law been in place during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations, New York and California wouldn’t be in such dire straits, and taxpayers on both coasts wouldn’t be on the hook to the extent that they are.

CAPS blog posts may be republished or reposted only in their entirety. Please credit CAPS as CAPS assumes no responsibility for where blog posts might be republished or reposted. Views expressed in CAPS blog posts do not necessarily reflect the official position of CAPS.