Are mass deportation agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement going around a New York directive in order to continue detaining immigrants in and around the state’s courthouses? It sure looks that way, an immigrant rights advocacy says in a new report.
In a groundbreaking decision last year, New York’s Office of Court Administration said ICE agents couldn’t sweep up immigrants at the state’s courthouses unless they had a federal judicial warrant or order first, as it should be. But, immigration officials flouted this directive and swept up 127 immigrants at courthouses in 2019, Immigrant Defense Project said in the new report.
“Following issuance of the April 2019 directive, ICE told its agents in an internal communication that ‘we are good to make the arrest outside the courthouse with or without a judicial warrant,’” the report said. “As promised, plainclothes ICE agents stationed themselves in multiple locations in and around courthouses, trailed individuals undercover, and arrested most people outside of courthouses.”
“From April 2019 onward, ICE used tactics that skirted the Directive by moving their arrests to court entrances and exits, while still surveilling people inside courthouses,” the report continued. “In some cases, ICE violated the Directive outright—refusing to identify themselves as required, failing to wait for a supervising judge to review a warrant, and escorting an individual out of the courthouse to handcuff them outside. ICE’s use of force has resulted in injuries, broken glass doors, and crippling fear of attending court.”
ICE’s actions have already had immense consequences when it comes to the most vulnerable, with prosecutors across the U.S. previously stating that anti-immigrant policies have made it harder to seek justice for immigrant victims of abuse. ICE has long believed it’s above the rules, as this report continues to confirm, and as long as there’s no consequences to this, it’ll continue to believe it’s above restraint. State leaders need to dig into this, because lives are depending on it.
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