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Courthouse Immigration Arrests Threaten Administration of Justice

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At a New York City Council hearing today, the New York Civil Liberties Union gave testimony arguing that arrests made by Immigration and Customs Enforcement at New York City courthouses undermine the constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.

 “The Trump regime’s vicious practice of picking up immigrants at courthouses subverts American justice at the very places New Yorkers count on to deliver it,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “These courthouse arrests make it harder for New Yorkers to seek redress, access protection, call witnesses, offer testimony or settle custody matters. It seems Trump and Sessions would trade away due process and justice in their obsession for so-called law and order.”

ICE officers have repeatedly arrested immigrants in and around New York courts. Earlier this month ICE arrested three individuals on the same day at Queens Criminal Court and tried to arrest another woman in Human Trafficking Intervention Court in Queens before she was granted bail.

Arrests by ICE have jumped by nearly 40 percent over the same three-month period last year, with an average of roughly 400 immigrants arrested each day, according to NYCLU testimony. ICE officials have made it clear that a broad swath of immigrants, not just those with serious criminal records, is at risk of being deported. Courthouse arrests carry particular significance in New York State, which has 4.3 million foreign-born residents.

In its testimony the NYCLU argues that the right to access the courts is well established and that ICE’s actions effectively block immigrant New Yorkers from exercising that right. As a result, immigrants are uniquely vulnerable to crime, harassment in the workplace and other forms of abuse. In addition, courthouse arrests by ICE deter immigrant parents from filing for custody of their children and mean that people falsely accused of crimes must worry about defending themselves in court.

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