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Commentary By Seth Barron

Pouring Cold Water on de Blasio's ICE Capade

Cities, Economics New York City, Immigration

Mayor de Blasio marked Tuesday’s national Day of Action on immigration by announcing a major new policy: starting immediately, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents will no longer be allowed to enter any of New York City’s 1,600 public schools for any purpose, unless they have a properly executed warrant signed by a judge.

Flanked by the schools commissioner, numerous elected officials, the city’s top lawyer, police representatives and several dozen advocates for illegal immigrants, de Blasio explained in depth the implementation of new training and procedures for dealing with federal agents when they show up at the schoolhouse door: the chain of command, the process of ascertaining the validity of warrants, the conditional entry of the agents, etc.

“If ICE agents come to a school,” the mayor summed up, “they will be kept outside the building.”

But when I asked how many times ICE agents, with or without warrants, had entered New York City school buildings so far, de Blasio answered, “None.” He agreed that the measure is entirely prophylactic — political theater, in other words.

Clearly embarrassed by the intrusion of this key truth into his charade, City Hall then pulled one of its classic Soviet-esque moves and deleted my question from the official video of the presser, only to put the full video up when I called them on it.

It’s easy to see why City Hall would be mortified by the episode.

De Blasio and his colleagues and allies talk constantly about the fear that President Trump is spreading among immigrants. At the same conference, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito intoned, “We are obviously living under a political climate where fear, uncertainty, and hate is [sic] plaguing our communities. Every day we wake up to news of families, law-abiding families, that are being ripped apart and separated from their loved ones.”

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña talked about her immigrant parents: “I also remember that although they weren’t in fear here, they both came from a country where there was a lot of fear, which is why they came here.” Fariña’s parents fled the Spanish Civil War, a brutal conflict marked by repression and violence perpetrated by fascist and Communist militias against soldiers and civilians alike, during which half a million people died.

In other words, she invoked a murderous proxy war between Hitler and Stalin to condemn America’s present system, whereby illegal immigrants may be deported to their home countries after lengthy judicial review.

Now, it’s true that ICE has stepped up immigration enforcement in New York City. In February, agents arrested 41 criminal aliens, most with convictions for rape, drunk driving or drug charges. There’s no evidence that immigration authorities have entered a school building anywhere in the United States for the purpose of arresting a child.

“I know it sounds outlandish,” de Blasio said in answer to another question about ICE agents in schools, “but we are seeing things we have not seen before, and there is a tremendous amount of fear out there.”

Such as? I asked. The mayor answered testily, “The combination: the travel ban, we’ve never seen something like that before, where people were detained without any charge, in the original travel ban; we’ve never seen an executive order, that I know of, threatening homeland security funding; we haven’t seen an individual who the federal government attempted to deport while they were in the middle of medical treatment in this country.”

Detention of people with uncertain visa credentials at the border “without any charge” is common throughout the world. In the case of the “travel ban,” no one was detained for more than a weekend: Most US states allow detention for up to 72 hours without the filing of charges.

The mayor’s other examples are equally feeble: federal-funding disputes and an anecdote about a deportee whose “treatment” was interrupted don’t add up to tyranny. Enforcement of long-standing immigration law is not fascist ethnic cleansing.

The left is operating in overdrive, promoting the idea that the government is sowing fear as part of a racial “purge,” as Mark-Viverito calls it. But in a municipal election year, it seems that the city’s elected leaders have found their own uses for fear — they’re trying to terrify their constituents.

This piece originally appeared in the New York Post, adapted from City Journal


Seth Barron is associate edtior of City Journal and project director of the Manhattan Institute’s NYC Initiative.

This piece originally appeared in New York Post