By David Brand
After years of advocacy by immigrants’ rights supporters, New York’s new state budget includes a provision designed to protect non-citizens convicted of some misdemeanors from exposure to deportation proceedings.
The One Day to Protect New Yorkers Act, sponsored by Jackson Heights State Sen. Jessica Ramos, will amend New York Penal Law to shorten the maximum jail sentences for certain class A misdemeanors from 365 days to 364 days. Criminal sentences of a year or more can trigger deportation proceedings for non-citizens.
“Immigrants are our neighbors and our family, and they make up the vibrant fabric of our communities,” Ramos said in a statement. “By passing the One Day Bill in the 2019-2020 budget, New York is vowing to protect our immigrants and keep New York families together.”
Bronx Assemblymember Marcos Crespo sponsored the Assembly version of the bill and hailed its inclusion in the budget after it failed in previous years.
“This bill gives judges more discretion when delivering sentences for misdemeanors therefore giving families the ability to stay together,” Crespo said. “In addition, this legislation will allow for more plea agreements which will result in savings of court time and resources, as well as savings in time and resources for the free legal service community.”
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests in and around New York courthouses increased by 1700 percent between 2016 and 2018, according to a report by the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP). Queens and Brooklyn accounted for the highest number of courthouse ICE arrests in the state during that period, the IDP report reveals. Last year, there were at least 33 ICE arrests in and around Queens courts.
Arrests and deportations have also surged across New York, according to a February report by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
IDP Acting Executive Director Mizue Aizeki said the One Day law will help ensure fewer people are targeted in their communities.
“Thanks to the work of advocates and immigrant communities, this legislation will ensure New Yorkers no longer need to worry that ICE will rip them away from their loved ones and communities,” Aizeki said. “ICE will not be able to throw them into a cruel immigration system that systematically deprives people of their human rights. One Day moves us forward in the fight against criminalization, and towards more freedom and power for New York’s vital communities.”