Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and an organizer of a rally to impeach Immigration and Customs Enforcement director Thomas Homan on Thursday evening urged Vice President Biden to step in to diffuse what some lawmakers have said is an escalating prison crisis at Rikers Island.
“This situation is out of control,” Mr. Jeffries told NBC New York after a rally outside the Rikers jail complex in Queens. “It is a crisis of leadership that has let the staff down and undermined the capacity of correction officers to do their job.”
About 150 supporters of the lawsuit filed last week by the union and Democratic members of the City Council marched from a park across the street from Rikers to Mr. Homan’s home.
Supporters of the lawsuit that seeks to force ICE to ensure its workers aren’t coerced into illegal actions assembled to protest ICE’s deportation sweep in Queens that left 11-year-old Maliyah Phuong Thao dead and cut ties between city police and ICE. (Credit: Jeff Collins/Getty Images)
“No one is more qualified than Vice President Biden to represent that city,” said New York City Councilman Mark Weprin, one of the group’s co-chairs. “He also brings a very important voice about how we can manage [Rikers] better.”
Other speakers said they hoped Mr. Biden’s name recognition and ability to reconnect constituents with elected officials could get people to work together to find a solution.
Afterward, the vice president’s office announced that Mr. Biden planned to visit a Rikers facility later on Thursday.
“The vice president is going to New York City today,” Stephanie Grisham, a spokesman for the vice president, said in a statement. “Upon his arrival, the vice president will meet with immigrant families and law enforcement leaders to continue to discuss the need to reform the immigration system so that it is fair and provides a pathway to citizenship for people in this country, and enforce our laws.”
A photo posted by Vice President Mike Pence (@mike_pence) on May 31, 2016 at 7:59am PDT
The rally, organized by Service Employees International Union 1199, the left-leaning Working Families Party and various groups including the National Nurses United, was in response to President Trump’s executive order last week to reunite separated immigrant families and deport them. Nearly 2,300 children are currently separated from their parents.
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he planned to visit Rikers Island later this week to discuss the city’s deteriorating safety conditions and officer productivity. Mr. de Blasio’s spokeswoman, Natalie Grybauskas, noted that the city stands to be paid $230 million a year to house ICE detainees.