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Unconfirmed report of ICE arrest in Brooklyn court sparks confusion

May 10, 2019 Noah Goldberg and David Brand
ICE agents arrest an immigrant outside Queens Criminal Courthouse in January. Photo obtained by the Eagle
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An unconfirmed report of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest inside Brooklyn Criminal Court sparked confusion and set defense lawyers and immigrants’ rights advocates on high alert Friday afternoon — but the arrest may have been executed by the NYPD, according to the Office of Court Administration.

A staff attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services said that two law enforcement officers, whom she could not confirm were ICE agents, arrested a man represented by The Legal Aid Society outside DV1, a courtroom in Brooklyn Criminal Court.

“There were two men holding paperwork that looked like a warrant,” the attorney said.

A spokesperson for The Legal Aid Society, however, said he believed the arrested man was represented by Brooklyn Defender Services.

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“[Enforcement and Removal Operations] New York did not make any arrests in, at, or near the Brooklyn Criminal Court today,” an ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle.

A spokesperson for OCA independently said there had been only one reported arrest at Brooklyn Criminal Court Friday. That incident occurred outside DV1 when NYPD detectives from the 71st Precinct arrested a man for menacing, the OCA spokesperson said.

ICE arrests in and around courthouses have increased by 1,700 percent since 2016, according to a January report by the Immigrant Defense Project.

In April, OCA announced a directive that barred ICE from making arrests inside New York State courts without a judicial warrant signed by the judge handling the case of the person targeted by ICE. The directive does not stop ICE officers from making arrests right outside the court.

Brooklyn was the site of 35 courthouse arrests in 2018, more than any other borough in New York City, according to the Immigrant Defense Project report. Queens had the next most at 33.

Advocates and state lawmakers hope to pass the Protect Our Courts Act before the end of the current legislative session in Albany. The bill would add courthouses to the list of sensitive locations — including schools, hospitals and houses of worship — where ICE cannot make arrests.

“ICE’s presence in our courts causes chaos, threatens our clients’ access to due process, and erodes the integrity of the judiciary. Courthouses are sensitive locations where everyone should have unbridled access to exercise their rights. They shouldn’t serve as traps for ICE to ensnare our clients and other immigrant New Yorkers,” Redmond Haskins, a spokesperson for The Legal Aid Society, said in a statement.


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