The New York Civil Liberties Union testified today in front of the New York City Council regarding a package of bills designed to protect immigrants and New Yorkers’ privacy. The bills are a positive attempt to safeguard immigrants who could find themselves targeted for deportation by the Trump administration.
One bill under consideration would establish a new administrative violation for disorderly behavior, a second would prohibit the Department of Probation from honoring civil immigration detainers except in limited circumstances, and a third would prevent city agencies from using city resources to assist in federal immigration enforcement. Another pair of bills would reform how New York City collects, retains and protects the privacy of individuals’ information.
“We praise the City Council’s intent to protect immigrants and all New Yorkers, and these proposals represent a new step to that end,” said NYCLU Senior Policy Advisor Ruthie Epstein. “Now it’s up to the speaker and City Council to complete the job by revising and passing the bills to ensure they are effective at meeting those objectives.”
In its testimony, the NYCLU called for further information and collaboration on reviewing and finalizing language on all of the bills, including on a set designed to increase privacy by reforming how the city collects and retains New Yorkers’ information. The NYCLU also called the disorderly behavior bill a small but meaningful step forward, but urged the Council to amend the administrative code to add the newly created disorderly behavior offense to the list of low-level offenses included in the Criminal Justice Reform Act passed last summer.
In particular, the NYCLU raised concerns about potential problems with the proposal to set up an additional level of bureaucracy that would be charged with reviewing all information requests that contain identifying information.
“As a group continuously striving to increase government transparency, we want to make sure that this new bureaucracy does not inadvertently make the city’s process for granting Freedom of Information Law and other requests even slower than it already is,” said NYCLU Policy Counsel Zachary Ahmad. “We look forward to working with the City Council to ensure that the city limits to the greatest extent possible how much it collects, retains and discloses our private data without compromising our right to know what our government is doing.”