Homeless shelter security not interacting with immigration agents, officials confirm
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services said its special officers, who provide security at homeless shelters and other facilities, have had no interactions with Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, the agency confirmed to the Brooklyn Eagle.
The agency responded to a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request filed by the Eagle requesting records of interactions since 2013 between New York City’s DCAS and ICE, the federal agency tasked with apprehending and deporting undocumented immigrants.
“In response to your Freedom of Information Request, copied below, I can advise you that DCAS Police/Special Officers have had no interactions with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or U.S. Customs and Border Patrol during the specified period,” said DCAS Senior Counsel Alan Deutsch, the records access officer and open data coordinator. “We therefore have no records responsive to your request.”
There are no conclusive statistics, but a significant number of undocumented immigrants experience homelessness and reside in shelters, the Progressive reported last year. A 2017 survey by the New York Immigration Coalition revealed that 61 percent of New York City’s immigrant legal service providers had at least one client living in a homeless shelter, and 20 percent had at least 50 clients residing in shelters.
In January, a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request made by immigration news site Documented revealed that state court officers had aided ICE agents in making at least six arrests at courthouses New York City.
Such interactions sparked alarm, since the fear of deportation at a courthouse can undermine an investigation and prosecution of other criminal activities.
“When fear of deportation prevents victims and witnesses from coming forward, or deters defendants from responsibly attending their court dates, we are all less safe,” Danny Frost, a spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, wrote in a statement to Documented. “While we are not able to comment specifically on the two Manhattan cases — because one has been dismissed and sealed, and the other is open and pending — these Reports make clear why New York lawmakers must immediately pass the Protect Our Courts Act.”
DCAS also operates the city courthouses and city-owned buildings but did not provide information about interactions between workers other than special officers.
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