In an interview with The Daily Beast on Wednesday, new York mayor Bill de Blasio said his “goal is to abolish jail time for non-violent offenses” and that while he’s not sure if he’ll eventually raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18, “we’ll see what happens in my time.”
De Blasio also said he favors a new pathway to legal status for immigrants brought to this country illegally as children. Like presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, he’s focused on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program but in a different way: He’s been all over the TV lately talking about allowing undocumented immigrants to earn a path to legal status through high school.
But while many in the Latino community may want their own version of de Blasio’s plan for “de-criminalizing crime,” some immigrant-rights activists were actually watching The Daily Beast and saw a villain. In a series of tweets, they pointed out that many of the young people who could benefit from de Blasio’s plan are, in fact, undocumented. It’s not just immigrants or their families who are being de-criminalized, they argued. As Kirsten Powers, a former adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and CNN host, put it on Twitter:
So I gotta say, I really don't think Bill de Blasio realizes that some of the kids he wants to help are some of his best friends' kids. — Kirsten Powers () February 19, 2019
Powers isn’t alone in noticing something odd about the man whose mayoral campaign focused on combating crime and who, many feel, stokes racial tensions in New York. With his de-criminalization plan, de Blasio, said one immigrant-rights activist, “is actually training kids to criminalize people.”
A trio of more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants who were detained for minor infractions such as riding a bike on a sidewalk, driving while an undocumented immigrant or carrying a small amount of marijuana filed a complaint this week with the United Nations against the U.S. government, claiming the zero-tolerance policy enacted under the Trump administration “unconstitutionally targets” the children of undocumented immigrants, according to The Associated Press.
“Now that the Executive Order is repealed, immigrant children in many parts of the country are being held in cells,” the complaint stated. “These children have no say in their detention.”
A federal judge in Texas had already ordered the Justice Department to stop separating immigrant children from their parents. But federal officials are refuting the immigrant groups’ assertion. In a statement to the AP, a Justice Department official called the complaints “grossly misleading.”
And on Tuesday, the party in power in the governor’s office in New Jersey accused De Blasio of “implementing a de facto deportation policy” by refusing to honor a court order to release a state inmate convicted of criminal sexual assault.
De Blasio told The Daily Beast, “It’s the first I’ve heard of that,” and added that the person had already served his sentence and was “doing his civic duty on probation.”
He said his chief of staff, Kevin O’Brien, had started working with his lawyers to explore what to do with the person. “I haven’t even had time to think about it yet,” de Blasio said.