ICE agents continue to make arrests near courthouses, nonprofit says

Despite state efforts to stop them, ICE agents continue to arrest immigrants at local courthouses, according to a report that the Immigrant Defense Project announced Tuesday. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) agents continue to arrest immigrants in and around courthouses across New York, according to data from the Immigrant Defense Project (IDP). 

So far this year, the IDP has tallied 112 incidents of courthouse operations, including arrests and ICE agent sightings. Of this number, 23 have occurred in and around courthouses in Brooklyn, 22 in Queens, 12 in Manhattan, 10 in the Bronx and 2 in Staten Island, according to IDP. 

In April, the New York State Office of Court Administration issued new rules that prevent federal immigration agents from making arrests in courthouses without a judicial warrant. IDP claims that agents have disregarded those rules, with 28 of those 112 reported courthouse arrests occurring after April 17, when the new rules took effect. 

Since then, agents have arrested or have been seen near a courthouse four times in Brooklyn, eight in Queens, six in Manhattan, three times on Staten Island and twice in the Bronx. Outside of New York City, agents have arrested or have been spotted near a courthouse five times. 

The nonprofit announced its findings after including them in an amicus brief filed with the Southern District of New York in support of a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Letitia James. Her litigation, filed in September, aims to stop ICE courthouse arrests. 

Forty other organizations joined IDP in filing the amicus brief. Immigration activists have argued that ICE’s police force creates a culture of fear. 

According to a survey that IDP conducted of 1,000 immigrants or family of immigrants currently dealing with the court system, 60 percent said that if they were a victim of a crime they would, they would avoid going to court out of fear of being arrested. 

Moreover, 50 percent said that they avoided calling the police because of a fear of ICE intervention. 

“The lawsuits, court rules, and community opposition send a unified message that New York will not tolerate ICE’s increased targeting of people at courthouses,” added Alisa Wellek, executive director of the Immigrant Defense Project. “The federal government’s systematic  racist policies that target Latinx and Black New Yorkers and other communities of color is inhumane and unjust and it’s time to put a stop to it once and for all.”

During the first two years of the Trump administration, the nonprofit has documented a 1,700 percent increase in ICE arrests and attempted arrests in New York state. 

The Federal Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to a request for comment. 

Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech