NEW YORK (AP) _ Illegal immigrants living in Manhattan who have been victimized by crimes or who are aware of crimes can now report the incidents without fearing arrest and deportation, officials said.
District Attorney Robert Morgenthau announced Tuesday that he has created a unit to address issues that confront immigrants, regardless of their status, and to prosecute people who prey on them without reporting their immigration status.
``New York is a city of immigrants, and the United States is a country of immigrants,'' he said. ``Everyone who comes here is entitled to the full protection of the law.''
Morgenthau said his office handles 110,000 cases a year and one-third of them involve people who don't speak English.
Mayor Edward Koch issued ordered city employees not to report immigrants' legal status to federal officials in 1989, and Mayor Rudy Giuliani continued that policy, but the federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 voided cities' rules against their workers reporting anyone's immigration status to federal authorities.
Giuliani challenged the law and lost, and New York has since adopted what amounts to a don't-ask-don't-tell policy.
Giuliani has had to defend his stand in the current race for the GOP presidential nomination. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said sanctuary cities encourage illegal immigration and should be denied federal money. Romney called New York ``the poster child for sanctuary cities.''
Morgenthau's new unit is the only one in the city's five boroughs.
Morgenthau's position on immigrants' legal status is consistent with stances taken by several other cities, including San Francisco and Miami, that have adopted sanctuary policies for immigrants, but not with recent federal law.