New York City

De Blasio to Immigrants: Drop Dead

New York's mayor hangs on to broken windows policing despite deportation risks.


Mayor Bill de Blasio re-iterated his support for broken windows policing at a press conference on crime in Astoria, Queens, despite the risk to which low-level petty law enforcement expose illegal immigrants in New York, which considers itself a sanctuary city. "We believe in quality of life policing," de Blasio said, "we believe it's one of the reason this city has gotten safer from a quarter of a century."

"We are not changing a formula that works," de Blasio continued. "It's demanded by neighborhoods all over the city," he noted, saying many of the leads are generated by 311 calls. Despite de Blasio's high-minded rhetoric about protecting illegal immigrants from overzealous immigration officers, his continued support for broken windows policing in the face of its human cost should not come as a surprise, even though the causal link between broken windows policing and lower crime is far from clear.

De Blasio showed a similarly uncompromising commitment to aggressive enforcement of low-level petty crimes in the summer of 2014, after the killing of Eric Garner while in police custody and a number of other police brutality incidents in New York made the news, despite insisting he was concerned about police misconduct and glomming on to the cause rhetorically. "The law is the law," de Blasio said back then. The New York City mayor had a similarly tautological response today about immigration raids in the New York City. "They're gonna do what they're gonna do," he said.

Asked whether police officers were finding cooperation harder to come by in immigrant communities since the election of Donald Trump, the new police commissioner, James O'Neill, said he had not heard such complaints about lack of cooperation, though de Blasio re-iterated their belief it would be inappropriate for local cops to be placed in a "federalized role" in terms of immigration enforcement because it creates barriers between police and the communities that they police.

In the press conference, de Blasio talked about the overall decrease in crime in New York City (with the exception of homicide, which saw a small uptick this February, with 20 homicides compared to last February's 18), giving credit for much of the decline to 2,000 additional police officers being put on the street. He also promised all police officers would be equipped with body cameras by 2019—no officers in New York City are currently equipped with such technology.

As de Blasio and police brass noted, there are 170 offenses considered "violent and serious" crimes for which a conviction triggers NYPD cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement on removal. De Blasio has indicated he's open to adding to that list, and says deliberations about that are continuing.