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Exclusive: Mayor Bill De Blasio Defends Sanctuary City Policy After ICE Criticism

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Mayor Bill de Blasio and immigration officials are in an intense war of words over New York's sanctuary city status.

The war of words specifically stems from whether the man charged in the death of a 92-year-old Queens woman should have been deported after an earlier attack.

De Blasio was flinging dirt Wednesday at the groundbreaking for a Queens health care center as the feds were flinging dirt on him, charging that the de Blasio administration's sanctuary city policy prevented them from deporting Reeaz Khan, the man now charged with the murder of 92-year-old Maria Fuertes.

"Clearly, the politicians care more about criminal illegal aliens than the citizens they are elected to serve and protect," said Thomas Decker, a New York ICE official.

CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer spoke to de Blasio and got his exclusive reaction to the criticism.

"We're talking about a heinous crime and this individual, once it's proven, is someone who should be in prison for the rest of their life, but on top of that, if convicted, then they will be turned over to ICE. That's how our law works," he said.

While the mayor vigorously defended his policies, ICE said, that's simply not good enough.

They said they asked the NYPD to hand Khan over for possible deportation last November after he beat up his father, and they say if the NYPD had complied, Khan wouldn't have been on the street.

In its defense, the NYPD said it didn't receive the request, but then ICE released the document.

Then the NYPD said it will honor ICE detainers only if"the person has been convicted of a "violent or serious crime" within five years of the arrest.

"ICE could've wallpapered the precinct with detainers and the NYPD would still not have honored them," tweeted ICE acting director Matthew Albence.

The mayor says the city has a list of 170 crimes which trigger deportation.

When asked if he regretted that Khan wasn't turned over in November, de Blasio said, "I don't know every fact of what happened before, but I know something fundamental. We believe that it is right to hold the standard. If someone is convicted of one of those crimes, they're out of here. It's as simple as that."

"If someone is accused of a crime, they still, of course, have a right to a trial," de Blasio continued.

The Khan case is clearly becoming a flash point for a broader debate on immigration.

ICE says hundreds of illegal immigrants charged with crimes in New York City are released each month and sent back into the community.

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