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Brooklyn DA and New York AG call for ICE to stop courthouse raids

August 3, 2017 By Paul Frangipane Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez calls for federal law enforcement to stop arrests in state courtrooms. Photo center: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, left, Steven Choi of the New York Immigration Coalition. Eagle photos by Paul Frangipane

William Siguencia Hurtado testified in two Brooklyn homicide cases, resulting in five convictions. In June, federal law enforcement ripped him away from his wife and two kids for living undocumented in the U.S.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman demanded Thursday that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) stay out of New York courts and stop arresting immigrants like Hurtado.

“The federal authorities claim they are making America safe again, but the truth is that their immigration enforcement policies are making all of us less safe,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

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There have been about 60 arrests or attempted arrests in New York courts this year, with at least eight arrests in Brooklyn, according to a survey by the Immigrant Defense Project.

There were 11 court arrests statewide in all of 2016.

Gonzalez and Schneiderman said these raids instill fear in immigrants to not come forward as witnesses and victims of crimes.

“We must not allow a large number of our residents to live in the shadows and stop cooperating with law enforcement,” Gonzalez said at a press conference.

Attorney Lee Wang of the Immigrant Defense Project said ICE almost always comes into courts with two to four agents in street clothes, often without visible badges.


“They are really operating as rogue operators in the courts,” Wang said.

Wang added that she doesn’t know how ICE has been able to track immigrants in family courts.

Two of the 60 arrests or attempts occurred in family courts, according to Wang.

“We are committed … to using every tool in our legal and constitutional toolbox to protect from overreach, bad public policies or backsliding from Washington,” Schneiderman said.

Alongside immigration activists, Gonzalez and Schneiderman advocated that ICE consider courts “sensitive locations,” such as sanctuary spots like schools, hospitals and places of worship.

“When you attack our courthouses and you undermine them, you are weakening a central pillar of our community,” said Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

President Donald Trump attempted to defund sanctuary cities but San Francisco Judge William Orrick ruled against the order on April 25 on a temporary basis.


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