NYC Mayor Says City Should Walk Back Sanctuary Laws

New York City mayor Eric Adams (Getty Images)
February 27, 2024

New York City mayor Eric Adams (D.) on Tuesday announced he wants to overhaul the city’s sanctuary laws amid a massive surge in asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, retreating from his promise on the campaign trail that New York would "remain a sanctuary city" under his administration.

The Big Apple’s sanctuary laws prohibit local agencies from assisting federal officials in locating and detaining an immigrant unless the immigrant has already been convicted of a serious crime. Adams said he seeks to amend these laws, proposing that mere suspicion of criminal activity should permit city officials to collaborate with immigration authorities.

"I want to go back to the standards of the previous mayors [Michael Bloomberg and Ed Koch] who I believe subscribed to my belief that people who are suspected of committing serious crimes in this city should be held accountable," Adams told reporters in a briefing Tuesday afternoon.

"[Immigrants] can have due process," Adams added, "but we should be communicating with ICE, and if ICE makes the determination of deporting, then they should, so no one’s taking away from anyone’s due process."

Referencing the NYPD's recent arrest of seven migrants who are allegedly part of a robbery ring, the mayor said he "philosophically disagree[s]" with letting the migrant ring leader "have two years before he’s actually convicted" and continue his criminal activity. "The mere fact we cannot share with ICE that this person has committed three robberies, that this person is part of an organized gang crew, mere fact that we can’t say that, and can’t communicate with that, is problematic for me," Adams said. 

The mayor's comments are a departure from his rhetoric when he was campaigning for office in 2021. Adams vowed at the time that "New York City will remain a sanctuary city under an Adams administration."

Adams’s Tuesday remarks came following a large influx of migrants into the city as a result of an unprecedented surge in illegal crossings at the U.S. southern border. There has since been an uptick in migrant crimes, including a mob beating of two cops in Times Square that sparked national outrage. New York City Council speaker Adrienne Adams, however, said in early February her chamber has "no plans" to modify the sanctuary laws.