Mayor to Reconsider Executive Order on Immigrants

By Maurice Pinzon
After a meeting on Friday with City Council member Hiram Monserrate, Mayor Michael Bloomberg agreed to review Mayoral Executive Order 34. The order, which the Mayor signed in May 2003, allows City agencies to share New Yorkers’ immigration status with federal authorities.

In an interview with New York News Network, Mr. Monserrate said the “Mayor made a commitment to revisit the Executive Order.” He went on to say, “I was quite frank with him,” telling the Mayor the order was counterproductive and detrimental to the city’s immigrant community.

Soon after the Executive Order was announced in early June, Mr. Monserrate and other council members organized a press conference on the steps of City Hall to oppose Executive Order 34. The executive order reversed a previous long-standing executive order, which Mayor Ed Koch issued in August 1989 to prevent City agencies from sharing immigration information with federal authorities.

At that press conference, Council member Monserrate said, “In a city that is 40 percent foreign-born, it is essential that these communities do not fear to access city services that stop disease from spreading, keep crime levels at historic lows, and put an end to discrimination.” Anthony Miranda, President of the Latino Officers Association, said at the same press conference that the order would “deter immigrants from reporting crimes and cooperating with authorities.”

The Bloomberg Administration indicated in documentation accompanying the Executive Order that, “Federal statues and case law since 1996…have affected the Order’s reporting prohibition. The Mayor’s press office today faxed a statement to New York News Network by former Mayor Ed Koch that said, “I support the mayor’s decision in this matter.” Mr. Koch indicated it was his understanding “the change is required by law and judicial decision.”

Council member Hiram Monserrate is director of the New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. In the City Council he represents Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and East Elmhurst, some of the most diverse communities in the United States.

Mayor Bloomberg’s executive order undermined the objectives of Council member Monserrate’s “Access Without Fear” legislation, introduced in December of 2002. The proposed local law, sponsored by 33 council members (including Council members Bill Perkins and Chris Quinn), seeks to protect the confidentiality of all New Yorkers—not just immigrants. The bill’s drafters believe that making confidentiality universal to all New Yorkers would make the legislation more difficult to challenge in court and comply with federal statues.

“The ‘Access Without Fear’ bill will protect people’s confidentiality,” Mr. Monserrate said. The proposed legislation contains provisions that allow city agencies to share information in limited circumstances, including criminal investigations.

After his meeting with Mayor Bloomberg, Council member Monserrate said he was “cautiously optimistic.” Mr. Monserrate said he would be meeting with the Mayor and other administration officials in the coming weeks to discuss the executive order and the legislation. “We need to see how we can reconcile their concerns with our concerns,” he said.

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