A group of 55 New York-based immigrants’ rights, civil rights and social justice organizations, including the New York Civil Liberties Union, New York Immigration Coalition, the NAACP New York State Conference, Amnesty International USA and the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, today urged NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly to break his silence and publicly condemn SB1070, Arizona’s anti-immigrant law.
Unlike many police chiefs, prosecutors and law enforcement experts nationwide, Kelly has not publicly criticized the discriminatory Arizona law, which was enacted in April and requires police to demand papers from people they stop proving citizenship or immigration status whenever there is a “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is in the country unlawfully.
In a letter today, the organizations called on Kelly to speak out against the misguided law, which invites racial profiling and discrimination, and endangers public safety by eroding trust between immigrant communities and police.
“Your voice would add gravitas and momentum to the growing national consensus opposed to discriminatory policies like SB1070 and, at a moment of great uncertainty, would serve to reassure both immigrant and non-immigrant New Yorkers that New York City does not share the counterproductive law enforcement strategy being implemented in Arizona,” the letter stated.
On May 26, eight police chiefs from major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia, met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and expressed concern that laws like Arizona’s will harm public safety by driving a wedge between immigrant communities and law enforcement. New York City was not represented in the meeting.
“Commissioner Kelly’s silence regarding this disastrous law is deeply disappointing,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “As head of the nation’s largest police force in a city that has long embraced and defended the rights of immigrants, he should be a powerful voice against discriminatory law enforcement policies like Arizona’s. New Yorkers need assurance that he opposes all laws that endorse racial profiling.”
Kelly’s silence contrasts with the reactions of New York City’s top elected officials. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, Comptroller John Liu, and the New York City Council have been outspoken in their opposition to SB1070.
“Immigrants in New York City rely on the NYPD to protect our communities, and we need to be able to trust police officers to help us,” said Angela Fernandez, executive director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants’ Rights. “We urge Commissioner Kelly to preserve that trust by condemning Arizona’s unjust, discriminatory law.”
The following organizations signed the letter:
American Friends Service Committee Immigrant Rights Program
American Immigration Lawyers Association - New York
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee New York
Amnesty International USA
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)
Association of Latin American Students, Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, UAW Local 2325
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Cabrini Immigrant Services
Center for Family Life in Sunset Park
Chinese Progressive Association
Churches United to Save and Heal
Council on American-Islamic Relations - New York
Democracy For New York City
Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
Drum Major Institute for Public Policy
El Centro del Imigrante
Families for Freedom
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
Haitian Americans United for Progress
Harlem Tenants Council, Inc.
Human Services Consortium of East Harlem
Judson Memorial Church
La Fuente: NYCPP & LICPP
La Union de La Comunidad Latina
Latino & Latin American Students' Association/Asociación de Estudiantes Latinos y Latinoamericanos (AELLA), Graduate Center, CUNY
LULAC - Syracuse Chapter
Metropolitan Russian American Parent Association
MinKwon Center for Community Action
NAACP New York State Conference
National Lawyers Guild NYC Chapter
New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City
New York Civil Liberties Union
New York Democratic Socialists of America
New York Immigration Coalition
New York Law School Racial Justice Project
New York State Youth Leadership Council
NICE New Immigrant Community Empowerment
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
Professional Staff Congress, CUNY
Public Science Project, Graduate Center, CUNY
Queens Community House
Riverside Language Program
Rockland Immigration Coalition
SCAN New York
Urban Justice Center
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
Working Families Party