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Resistance to the ramping up of immigration enforcement

The White House continues to ramp up plans to expand deportation of people living in the United States illegally. As the battle lines continue to be drawn in the Trump administration’s ongoing disputes over so-called “sanctuary cities.” New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill has underlined his city’s stance in a memo to his officers.

O’Neill formally notified all 36,000 NYPD officers to clarify that they should not enforce administrative warrants issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents or federal immigration judges for overstaying a lawful visa.

In the memo, the commissioner emphasized New York City’s commitment to immigrants and the need to provide a welcoming environment to them while ensuring public safety for all New Yorkers.

O’Neill’s clarified the NYPD’s stance just as the Trump administration rewrites the nation’s immigration enforcement priorities. While U.S. immigration law has not changed, a harder line is the new normal.

Under former President Barack Obama, resources focused on immigrants convicted of serious crimes, posed threats to national security, or recently crossed the borders. Now, any immigrant living in the U.S. illegally who is suspected, charged or convicted of a crime will be a priority, according to a department memo signed by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other opponents to the narrowing of the guidelines have expressed concerns that the role of law enforcement in the city will change. NYPD police officers could become defacto immigration agents. Jails throughout the city will become holding pens for immigrants.

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