New Yorkers are a melting pot of ethnicities, faiths, and opinions, but nearly all of them agreed on one thing as 2021 drew to a close: Bill de Blasio was a spectacularly bad mayor, and his departure after reaching his eight-year term limit can only be a good thing for the city.
De Blasio’s shortcomings have been well-documented in Big Apple media: an extremist, quasi-socialist agenda, callous disregard for quality-of-life issues, complete lack of work ethic, nepotism, and flagrant waste of taxpayer money are often cited. While those are all legitimate criticisms, the most glaring failure was his contempt for law enforcement that made New York City a dangerous place to live once again. This was most clearly manifested in his embrace of sanctuary policies.
Much like the once-chic “defund the police” movement, sanctuary policies are destined to be orphaned by the anti-borders politicians who previously championed them. While attempting to equate the harboring of criminal illegal aliens with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, sanctuary policy advocates instead terrorized communities of legal and illegal residents alike. Violent crime, as it turns out, does not discriminate based on diplomatic status.
Through it all, de Blasio stubbornly defended his sanctuary policies through the horror stories, and there were plenty of them. Almost a year ago, Reeaz Khan, then 21, was arrested in Queens and charged with the brutal sexual assault and murder of Maria Fuentes, 92, a beloved member of her community and an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.
Khan arrived in New York from his native Guyana on a B-2 tourist visa but overstayed for three years, making him an illegal alien. He was arrested in New York the previous November for assaulting his father as well as criminal possession of a weapon. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents filed a request to detain Khan so they could take him into their custody for possible deportation, the New York Police Department followed the city’s sanctuary policy and denied the request. Khan was instead released into the public, where he remained until his arrest for murder.
The NYPD’s Sergeants Benevolent Association unloaded on de Blasio at the time for his deadly recklessness:
At what point do YOU take responsibility for a 92-year-old woman raped and murdered. If you complied with ICE detainers she would still be alive. You try to deflect the issue by turning it into exploitation, the FACT is her death is on YOU.
While most politicians would hang their heads in shame and issue a public apology, de Blasio instead attacked ICE, stating, “The morally bankrupt organization that tears families apart and puts innocent children in cages has ZERO right to tell us how to keep our city safe.”
That statement, in addition to being childlike and devoid of any accountability, was also factually wrong. ICE has nothing to do with the operation of detention facilities for illegal aliens at the border. It primarily focuses on deporting criminal aliens like Khan before they can commit more crimes like sexual assault and murder.
De Blasio’s stated position throughout his two terms was that only after illegal aliens have been convicted of committing “heinous” crimes should they be jailed and possibly deported. He also said the city had a list of 170 crimes that would trigger deportation. Apparently assault and criminal possession of a weapon didn’t rise to the city’s standard on his watch.
The reality of de Blasio’s sanctuary policy was that an innocent victim had to die a violent death before New York City would support the deportation of an illegal alien with a prior record of violent crimes. That kind of disregard for public safety can make even a largely progressive constituency turn on a left-wing politician in a deep-blue city such as New York.
With de Blasio now a bad memory, there has been hope that this successor Eric Adams would bring the city back to greatness. That was due to Adams’ more than two decades with the NYPD and his rhetoric supporting police during the campaign. Alas, the anti-borders movement within his party got to Adams as well, as he has bent the knee in support of sanctuary policies (though he appears to have changed his tune on noncitizen voting in city elections). Things must apparently hit absolute rock bottom for New Yorkers to demand true change. Macabre as it seems, de Blasio’s reign may have been merely the prelude to rock bottom.